BRIDGEPORT _ Norm Pattis, an attorney for parents no longer recognized by the city school board for representing district parents, has filed suit in U.S. District court Tuesday asking for punitive damages against Interim Schools Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz as well a temporary injunction prevention the district from replacing members of the District Executive Parent Advisory Council.
The action came as Rabinowitz was meeting Wednesday evening with other parent leaders to help reorganize the group.
The board voted 6-2 last month to stop recognizing leadership of the District Executive PAC because of a bylaw that prohibited parent leaders from belonging to any other education advocacy group. The executive PAC consists of 12 members, including President Tammy Boyle and Maria Pereira, a former school board member who now serves as a District Community Committee Representative.
The lawsuit claims Rabinowitz’s actions were inspired by malice and an attempt to retaliate against members of the district pack board based on things they said.
The suit says the conflict of interest bylaw was intended to ensure board members had “undivided loyalties.” It also was an effort to keep charter school advocates and their proponents from influencing education policy in the district. The action violates the federal requirement that any parent engagement policy be a product of mutual agreement between parents and the board, according to the suit.
What resulted, the suit said, was an unlawful coup d’état, an attempt to silenced PAC members who have been vocal critics of the board, Rabinowitz and Mayor Bill Finch.
“Rabinowitz actions … were inspired by malice, as were the actions of the six school board members voting to oust the DPAC Executive board,” the suit states.
The suit calls for any damages awarded to be given to the DPAC treasury.
Here is the suit: PAC suit