The Bridgeport Board of Education voted 6-3 to reject Sauda Baraka and the tactics employed by the Working Families Party last night, choosing instead to elect retired teacher Dave Hennessey as their new board chair.
One would assume that the board rejected Baraka as chair because over the last year the focus has been on waging political war with the city rather than improving Bridgeport’s schools.
Though Hennessey won his board seat last year through an alliance between the petitioning slate and the Working Families Party, he and fellow board member Andre Baker dissented on key issues early on, including the new Harding High School construction project.
While what Hennessey’s election means for the board’s power dynamic is uncertain, change is already happening, and not everybody is happy about it.
As the superintendent’s administrative assistant called out the ballots, former board member Maria Pereira and other crowd members loudly snickered remarks like “sellout” and “12 months and done.”
Pereira went so far as to call members of the board who supported Hennessey “scumbags.”
According to the Connecticut Post’s Linda Lambeck, Pereira told Hennessey point blank that she’ll be working to oust board members that didn’t support Baraka.
“Know that we will be working to make sure 12 months from today, you lose your crown,” she told Hennessey.
Side question: Is Pereira more upset that Hennessey strayed from the party line or because she’ll lose influence now that Baraka is no longer chair?
In contrast to some of the more unruly members of the crowd, Hennessy denounced derogatory attacks on board members during his first chairman’s report, telling the audience that disruptive personal attacks would not longer be tolerated.
“It will do nothing to further civil discourse that will help our children’s future,” said Hennessey.
In addition to Hennessey’s win, Joe Larcheveque, the sole Republican on the board, won the vice chair seat–though by a slimmer margin, with new member Kadisha Coates supporting Dr. Jacqueline Kelleher instead. Hernan Illingworth retained his position as board secretary.
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