It looks like Bridgeport’s school board members might be back in court again.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that school board member, Maria Pereira, is facing four complaints with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity, including a complaint filed in September by outgoing interim Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz.
To complicate matters, this may turn into a battle over who pays legal fees for Pereira’s defense — The Connecticut Post has the story:
“At a meeting Tuesday of the full school board, Pereira failed on a 5-4 vote to get the complaints discussed publicly.
Board member Dennis Bradley called the matter a personnel issue that should be discussed with the city attorney’s office, not the board. Bradley and Board Chairman Joe Larcheveque are both listed as witnesses on Rabinowitz’s complaint.
Pereira wants the city to pick up the tab for her defense, claiming she is indemnified as a school board member. She also wants to use her own lawyer, not one provided by the city or school board…”
Conspiracy or Long Time Coming?
Pereira insists these complaints are a conspiracy plotted by Rabinowitz and her supporters.
While the complaints do coincide with the beginning of the BOE boycott, the alleged harassment is hardly far fetched considering Pereira’s penchant for candor — I give you exhibit A.:
There’s also some evidence that staff felt harassed by Pereira. In an email obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request, a staff member emailed Pereira about her behavior. Here’s Pereira’s response (the blue type is an excerpt from the staff members email):
Compounding this is Pereira’s long history of questionable comments. Last month she called Faith Acts Executive Director Jamilah Prince-Stewart an “uncle tom” in an email reply to a forum invitation. Pereira has used other racially-charged language in the past, including calling charter school leaders “shysters”, a word sometimes used as an anti-semitic slur.
According to the Connecticut Post, the CHRO complaints cite age and race discrimination. The attorney for CHRO, Michelle Dumas Keuler, told the Post that CHRO complaints can not be based on mere harassment, they must be based on a protected class, such as gender, disability or race.
Pereira, Rabinowitz and the three other employees who filed complaints are all white women, which may make discrimination difficult to prove, though we don’t know the exact allegations within the complaints because pending complaints are not in the public record.
For more on this:
Here are links to past coverage on Pereira:
- Parent Group’s Call For Unity Met With Bigotry
- Hypocrisy at its Finest: Pereira Personally Attacks New Board Member At Meeting
- Pereira Threatens Litigation Over Approval Of Columbus School Commissioner’s Network Letter of Intent
- Bridgeport Superintendent Resigns: Yet Another Victim Of Hostile School Board Politics