Bridgeport BOE Chair Allows Interruption of Meeting by Political Ally; Drama Over Forum Flyer Ensues

As anyone who attends Bridgeport Board of Education meetings can attest, under Chairwoman Sauda Baraka, rules only apply to some.

Tuesday night, Baraka’s political ally, former board member Maria Pereira, was allowed to interrupt current board member Hernan Illingworth not once but twice without any repercussions. In fact, Baraka defended Pereira’s actions:

Here is Pereira interrupting once more:

It’s probably no surprise to readers that Baraka would defend Pereira’s interruption since Baraka was the root cause of the tension over a proposed flyer for an upcoming October 22 community forum at Cesar Batalla School.

As reported by Education Bridgeport! last week, Baraka refused to allow the superintendent’s office to distribute the flyer for a community forum, which was approved by the board’s Community Engagement Committee at their meeting last Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Parent Advisory Council (PAC) leadership admonished the board over the flyer incident, once again saying they felt “disrespected” by the board.

A lot of this imagined disrespect stems from the fact that “Fast Pass,” an identification system the police department wants to pilot at Fairchild Wheeler was among topics to be discussed at the public forum.

You see, PAC president Tammy Boyle is close friends with Pereira, who is now the PAC community representative. Neither of them have made it a secret that they oppose anything that anything to do with Mayor Finch. Clearly, stopping the circulation of a flyer mentioning a program proposed by a city agency to keep Bridgeport’s children safe will be the nail in Mayor Finch’s political coffin! (Can feel my eyes rolling as I write that?)

As shown in the video above, during Illingworth’s committee report he explained that he didn’t realize there would be any problems with the flyer because he had discussed the forum’s agenda, including the inclusion of Fast Pass, at the September 22 board meeting. Illingworth was upset that instead of emailing or calling him about their issue, which could have been resolved earlier, allowing more time for parent to see the forum flyer, the PAC turned this into a political showdown.

During Illingworth’s Community Engagement Committee report he says, “We are all on the same team.” To which Pereira responds from the audience, “No, we’re not.”

Goes to show her true intentions. Clearly none of this is not about working together or community engagement. If it was, Pereira wouldn’t have opposed sending out a flyer for a community forum meant to engage the public on an issue that affects parents so directly.

No, this was all about creating about creating division, and I wasn’t the only one to notice this.

Board member Dave Hennessy commented later on during the meeting that he thought the flyer had become a “political football.”

Another board member Andre Baker went as far as to question the District PAC’s seemingly antagonistic relationship with the board.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them and them against us,” Baker said. “I think the whole reason we have them sitting at the table is that we can be able to bond, we can be able to work together and put a balance on things, but it doesn’t seem like that.”

It’s really a shame that politics couldn’t be put aside. Parents yearn for more involvement, and this drama has muddied what could be a wonderful opportunity for them to have a voice.



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