When the Bridgeport Board of Education takes up the issue of Paul Laurence Dunbar School this Thursday, I hope their main focus is what’s best for the students.
No matter what employees of the management company that led the school’s turnaround did or didn’t do, the fact of the matter is Dunbar has seen significant improvement over the past year.
Dunbar has seen a dramatic decrease in chronic absenteeism, a lowering of their suspension rate by over 20 percent, and the percentage of first and second grade students on track in reading has increased by a quarter.
The board owes it to these students to make sure that progress isn’t lost.
Unfortunately, I suspect Chairwoman Sauda Baraka and her cronies on the board may use this meeting to push their agenda, circumventing the state Board of Education’s ongoing investigation.
At the moment, the state board is working closely with the Superintendent to make sure a thorough and fair investigation of the school takes place. Any decision before this investigation is concluded would be premature.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the board acted in a void, doing what they see fit without any accountability to the public they are supposed to serve.
Although there is no mention of possible action on Thursday’s agenda, that has never stopped the board from casting ill-conceived “impromptu” votes on contentious issues—particularly issues involving the state board.
Back in March, the board voted to add a moratorium against charter schools to the agenda, after former Bridgeport Working Families Party Chair Maria Pereira stacked the public comments section with her buddies, preventing pro-charter school parents from talking.
It’s entirely possible that the board plans on taking similar action this Thursday—especially considering the meeting was curiously changed to bigger venue.
Are they going to stack the room with their political allies, or this time, are they going to actually let the parents, students and teachers at Dunbar speak?
I can only hope that for once the board will do the right thing.
But if they push a decision, what exactly would that mean for the students at Dunbar? That’s really the question that should be asked before the board makes a hasty decision.
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