How Can a Bridgeport BOE Committee Spend Money Without A Vote?

The Jettie S. Tisdale community will be happy to hear that last Monday the Bridgeport Board of Education voted 6-0 to “suspend any further work or discussion” of an Memorandum of Understanding that would have placed a public library in their school.

However, Bridgeport residents will be less than thrilled to hear that despite the fact that the BOE never actually voted on the ill-conceived plan, the drafting of the MOU has already cost the cash-strapped district around $1,000.

That’s right, in what appears to be in violation of the BOE’s bylaws, money was spent on an MOU that was never vetted by parents or voted on by the BOE — but I suppose this is what happens when a member of the library board leads the committee that’s making the decisions.

Readers of the blog may remember that Tisdale parents were outraged last month that the board’s Policies and Procedures Committee, led by Sauda Baraka, pushed a plan to merge the Newfield Library Branch with their school library. 

For obvious reasons, parents and school staff were concerned about the security risks involved in opening the school up to the broader community.

In response to public outcry and concern that the plan was being pushed forward under false pretenses, Hernan Illingworth asked that the BOE vote on the issue at last Monday’s regular board meeting and look into developing policies to stop committees from spending money on things that weren’t vetted.

“When we started this conversation, we were led to believe that there was buy-in from the school on this,” said Illingworth at the meeting. “Because of having that understanding, we went and spend money on an MOU.”

Baraka — who is also the vice-president library board – was not happy about the motion, claiming that she was being “blind-sided.”

According to Baraka, “we [the BOE] had to talk to the attorneys to see if there was anything that would bar us from even having discussion about this.”

Meanwhile, one of the key complaints of parents last month was that the MOU seemed set in stone – a point that Illingworth also made.

“It was much more than a question of can we do this. It was actually an MOU to move forward,’ added Illingworth.

Here’s the thing: Even if you accept Baraka’s answer, it doesn’t explain how the Policies and Procedures Committee authorized spending money without the full board’s consent.

Of course Baraka didn’t address this matter.

She and her buddy, mayoral candidate Howard Gardner, were too busy making outlandish claims that opposition to the library was “orchestrated.”



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