BRIDGEPORT — Five members of what will be the new city school board come December 1 have issued a joint press release pledging to support Sauda Baraka as the next board chair.
Baraka, a member of the Working Families Party, won re-election last month. She will be the longest serving member of the incoming board.
She has been an active and involved parent advocate for more than 20 years.
Those saying they will support Baraka include Jacqueline Kelleher, Hernan Illingworth and John Bagley, all returning members on the board, along with Andre Baker and Howard Gardner, both Democrats who won seats on the board after they were successful in a primary in September.
“I am eager to begin a collaborative relationship with this new board, under Ms. Baraka’s leadership, Kelleher said in a prepared statement. Kelleher is a Sacred Heart University professor who first came on the board as a state appointed member. She later won a seat after the state appointed board was ruled illegal.
The school board has nine members altogether. The other three include incumbent Kenneth Moales, and newly elected members Dave Hennessey – both Democrats and Joe Larcheveque – a Republican. Hennessey was also sought to be interested in running as chair.
In the press release, the five members said the vote signaled a need to unify the new board and provide a sense of direction and support.
The press release states:
“We do not minimize the challenges that we will confront as members of the Bridgeport Board of Education. Those challenges include the selection of a new permanent superintendent of schools. We are confident that Sauda Baraka, in her new role as board chair, will approach every issue in an open, collaborative fashion. She will value and respect the views and input of every board member, and we look forward to serving on the board which she will lead.”
The press release goes on to say that Baraka is excited and looking forward to working with all members of the new board.
“I will do everything in my power to place the board’s focus where it belongs, on the public school students and parents of Bridgeport. The board must focus on policies, not personalities.
“The education of our children must not fall victim to petty political intrigue,” Baraka maintained. “As chairman, I will make a concerted effort to work with every member of the new board in order to realize the progress which I am confident that we all desire.”