BRIDGEPORT — After a day of confusion over whether the newly reconstituted school board would meet on Monday, a decision was made late Friday to hold the meeting, starting with a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. to elect officers. (This after the district central office posted a notice with the city clerk’s office that the meeting would start at 6 p.m.)
For much of Friday, the school district website had a notice saying the scheduled meeting was on hold as city and state officials scrambled to determine what made Tuesday special school board election official.
The election had no irregularities and clear cut winners. The results were verified by the city’s Registrar of Voters, and accepted by the Town Clerk’s office. Still some suggested the election would not become official until a report on the results is submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Town Clerk Alma Maya first said Friday the report — which includes who was elected, where they lived, what their party affiliations were and terms of office — would be submitted to the Secretary of the State’s Office by a September 14 deadline. Later, she said she had found the time to do it that afternoon. That report was then sent to the Secretary of the State’s Office. Earlier, Av Harris, a spokesman for the secretary’s office said his understanding was that the election was verified at the point the results were sent by the registrar to the Town Clerk. Results were also transmitted to the state.
Linda Grace, the city’s Republican Registrar, said attorneys representing both registrars are satisfied with the process.
“I think we all thought it was certified but there is not that many times you have an election that involves the court and everyone else,” said Grace. “We’re all on a learning curve with this.”
Ruben Felipe, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Bill Finch said an attempt was made to get the results sent up to Hartford as soon as possible to clear the way for a meeting on Monday which will be moderated by Mayor Bill Finch until a chairman is selected.
The new board members include Hernan Illingworth, Jacqueline Kelleher, Kenneth Moales and John Bagley. Illingworth, Kelleher and Moales are all Democrats who were all on the state-appointed school board that has served for the past year. Bagley is a member of the Working Families Party. They join Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka, Bobby Simmons, Thomas Mulligan and Leticia Colon, who were on the elected board before the board voted to ask for state intervention in July 2011.The state Supreme Court ruled in February that the intervention was illegal and ordered an election to fill board seats that have expired.
Colon, who has since taken a seat on the city council, said Friday she has resigned from the council to return to the board. The city charter prohibits her from holding both positions.
“I loved serving on the council,” said Colon, who called the decision difficult. She said serving on the school board was difficult but that she was elected citywide for that position so decided to return to serve out her term. Colon said she did what she thought was right when she voted with the majority to ask the state Board of Education to be replaced.
“It has to be better now. There is a better structure,” she said, adding the district is also better off financially.
The first job of the new board will be to pick a chairperson. They then have a regular meeting that largely includes personnel appointments.