On Monday night, the Bridgeport Board of Education went in a surprisingly neutral direction when they appointed parent Mary “Kate” Rivera as their newest member.
Unlike several other candidates vying for the open seat, Rivera has no intention of running in the upcoming BOE elections this Fall.
A special education advocate and parent of four children, Rivera said she sought the short-term vacancy rather than a longer term because she was afraid she could not commit to a longer term.
Candidates in the September primary Ben Walker and Faith Harrison-Villegas also interviewed, as did Gail Janensch, Rev. Emanuel Reasor, Michelle Robinson and Aphia Griffiths.
Rivera won five votes, beating out two other candidates nominated by the BOE, Harrison-Villegas and Janensch.
On the topic of charter schools – which, incidentally, was focus of the BOE’s questioning – Rivera also appeared to be the diplomatic choice.
During the interview, she said she felt the board’s priority should be on the underfunded district schools, but one of her children also attends a charter school.
Last night was not the first time Rivera spoke in front of the BOE. A few months ago, she spoke out against moving special education students from the University School to Bassick High School.
In addition to special education advocacy work, Rivera serves on the Juvenile Review Board, which is a restorative justice program that seeks to reduce referrals to the juvenile court system. She told the BOE if she could change one thing, it would be to end the school-to-prison pipeline.
“I want to be a part of the solution,” said Rivera. “I want to actively take a bigger role in fixing our school system and helping our kids.”
Rivera will be filling the vacancy left after Jacqueline Kelleher resigned at the end of July. She is scheduled to be sworn in on Tuesday.
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