Senator Joseph McCarthy ain’t got nothing on Bridgeport’s District Parents Advisory Council (PAC).
According to a letter from Multicultural Magnet PAC Vice President Cecile Lobo, the District PAC has been bullying her, and is now trying to oust her as VP, because of her alleged affiliation with the education advocacy group Excel Bridgeport.
The District PAC has done this before. Longtime readers may remember they pulled a similar stunt last year, when District PAC leadership voted to kicked former PAC president of Cesar Batalla School, Juan Torrealba, out of his position after District PAC leaders allegedly circulated their own petition against him.
This time around, the District PAC President Tammy Boyle is using a clever bylaw rewrite to get rid of certain parents.
Just as when they removed Robert Rules of Order from their bylaws with zero input from the broader community, the District PAC added a new addendum to their “conflict of interest” clause which blocks certain parents from holding school PAC leadership positions.
According to the new rules any parent “affiliated with other education advocacy organizations” is not allowed to run for a PAC executive board office. The addendum specifically names RYASAP, BCAC, Excel Bridgeport, Bridgeport Public Education Fund, ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools and Northeastern Charter School Network as banned organizations.
Here’s where it gets really nuts. This new addendum doesn’t just target parents working for these organizations, it also applied to volunteers.
In Lobo’s case, the PAC’s only proof that she was “in violation” of their ridiculous and discriminatory new rule was that they found a picture of Lobo on Excel Bridgeport’s website from three years ago.
I’m not kidding.
It gets even more bizarre. According to Lobo, the PAC has been keeping tabs on certain “blacklisted” parents.
Here’s the full text of Lobo’s letter, sent to Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz and members of the Board of Education:
Letter to Superintendent Rabinowitz and BBOE Members,
My name is Cécile Lôbo and I am the Multicultural Magnet School PAC Vice President. I have been an active and very engaged parent in the Bridgeport Public Schools for over 9 years. I helped write the Parent and Family Engagement Policy that was approved by the BOE in August 2012.
During 2012, I spent countless hours at Excel Bridgeport brainstorming with 8 other BPS parents trying to figure out how we could get parents engaged. We, as parents, felt we were doing a lot for our own children, but felt,as well that we needed to use our experiences to advise the BOE on how to successfully engage other parents in their children’s learning. We collaborated with then District PAC President, Korene Garcia, VP, and one DCR, but there were already people on the DPAC who were actively undermining Korene and our efforts. One of those people is still on the DPAC Executive Board: Tammy Boyle. She and several others were not concerned about the importance of parents being involved in their children’s education so we were very grateful for our partners Excel Bridgeport and Columbia University providing us with a facilitator, meeting place, materials, research, childcare, etc. The PFEP was written by parents for parents and was approved by the BOE, after discussing the policy with a teacher representative and an administrator representative, because the BOE members recognized the genuine and philanthropic intent of the policy.
In the meantime, many disgraceful events happened that involved District PAC. Parents who were engaged throughout the district got pushed away, banished, silenced, threatened, intimidated, disrespected one after the other until only a toxic clique of deceitful manipulators were left to lead DPAC along with spending its portion of Federal Title I funds. After the election where different leaders were elected was thrown out and disregarded, a new election was held in non-compliance with the DPAC bylaws, and the BOE rejected our pleas to intervene saying it had no authority over PAC, most parents didn’t bother fighting this injustice and discrimination any longer. They felt they had no one to turn to, and more importantly, they felt their time and efforts were better spent on their own children and families.
Today, I am being bullied and harassed by the DPAC President, Tammy Boyle. My rights as a parent of BPS to participate in my children’s school and the rights of the parents who elected me to lead them are being violated and I have decided to inform you about DPAC discriminatory actions against me and ask you to intervene. I have received a letter from Tammy Boyle notifying me that I am no longer welcome to act as MCM PAC Vice President because of my affiliation with Excel Bridgeport!! My belonging to any organization is irrelevant and has no ground to be taken into consideration since PAC is funded by Federal monies.
Regardless of my political views, of my affiliations with any kind of organizations, I am a BPS parent and I have been formally elected by the parents of MCM to represent them. I am appalled by Tammy’s actions and by her reasons for expelling me. I am tired of DPAC’s witch hunt. I am really distraught by the idea of DPAC keeping tabs on everyone on their “black list” and I would think that they would spend their time and energy focusing on how to empower parents rather than bullying the few parents still willing to devote their time to promote parents’ engagement! This “Big Brother” mentality and bullying is detrimental for BPS children and parents, as well as for the schools themselves because getting rid of valuable parent help is evidence of DPAC going in the opposite direction of their primary purpose of advising the BOE on how to engage parents.
I feel utterly betrayed by DPAC. I am embarrassed by their irresponsible leadership and lack of accountability. They do not represent me as a BPS parent.
I am choosing to fight this injustice all for one principle and for children who benefit from my hours of volunteering, and for parents who I help empower so they can help their children succeed socially and academically. That’s what the PFEP is all about and even though I am disgusted, angry, and bit afraid, I still want to make a difference. I am choosing to disregard the letter and I will stay on as MCM PAC Vice President.
Today, I am asking you, BOE members to take action and rid the BPS of DPAC bullies. We need a functioning respectful team to achieve positive results.
And, here is the letter that PAC President Tammy Boyle sent to Lobo:
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