Who cares about state law?
Clearly, not the Bridgeport Board of Education, who voted 5-1 on Tuesday to disregard a memorandum issued by their own attorney, which warned that they are in violation of the state’s minority representation law.
If you’re wondering, yes, they are disregarding the opinion of the very same BOE dedicated attorneys they insisted on hiring last year to the tune of $275 an hour.
Currently there are seven Democrats on the board, which is one too many.
According to state law, the majority party on the board cannot hold more than two-thirds of the seats on the panel. When Kadisha Coates switched her party affiliation to run as a Democrat in the 2015 Democratic primary, an imbalance was created.
According to the Connecticut Post, the attorneys at Shipman & Goodwin determined that switching political affiliation does not trigger a violation.
After the resignation of Jacqueline Kelleher from the Board of Education, rather than replacing her with Kate Rivera, a Democrat, the legal opinion stated that the board should have appointed someone who was not a registered Democrat. That actually conflicts with the city charter, which states that vacancies must be replaced by members of the same political party.
The question now is what will come of this?
At this point, especially now that BOE has willfully disregarded the legal opinion of their attorneys, the matter is entirely up to the SEEC.
By continuing to operate in violation of state election law, the Bridgeport Board of Education is not only risking fines and penalties, but they have also opened the district up to legal challenges of any decision they make.
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