On Monday, the Bridgeport Board of Education voted to begin the long process of searching for a new permanent superintendent, which they admit will take around 18 months – which happens to be the amount of time left on Interim Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz’s two-year contract.
Of course, this decision wasn’t without its controversy.
While the majority of members were satisfied with keeping superintendent on until they find a replacement, Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka questioned whether the superintendent could legally remain.
According to Pereira and Baraka, a June 2015 ruling by State Attorney General George Jepsen concerning another school district renders Rabinowitz current contract illegal, insisting that retired superintendents are barred from making more than 45 percent of the maximum salary for a particular position.
None of this is surprising coming from either Pereira or Baraka since both have been gunning for the superintendent’s ousting for nearly two years – or about around the time they figured out that they could not intimidate district leadership into bending to their will.
Fortunately, despite their insistence to the contrary, it appears that the law isn’t on their side.
According to a state memo, reemployed retired teachers (which include Superintendents by legal definition) may be employed by priority districts without any earning cap:
“A retired member can work in a Subject Shortage Area, or at a school located in a Priority School District, for one school year and, with prior approval from the CTRB, for a second school year with no limitation on earnings, no impact on the member’s pension, and no requirement to reimburse the CTRB.”
The BOE’s attorney seems to agree.
Attorney Thomas Mooney of Shipman and Goodwin told Linda Lambeck at the Connecticut Post that because Bridgeport is a priority school district, “the Interim Superintendent may be employed for two years at 100 percent of the salary for the position of Superintendent.”
At Monday’s BOE meeting, the superintendent said that she was aware of the ruling’s effect on the 2016-17 school year.
“I will honor my contract whether or not I can make full compensation,” Rabinowitz said.
This is great news. It would be a shame for the district to be destabilized again, just because certain members of the board can’t put politics aside.
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