At 11:41 pm on January 14, 2013, CT Post reporter Linda Lambeck posted a story to her blog entitled, “Yes, Bridgeport BOE will still keep talking when staff and audience walk out.”
The CT Post reported, “Three hours into the city school board meeting Monday, and the panel still had not gotten to the heart of their agenda, which included a request to approve $200,000 in grants to help facilitate the opening of the district’s new high schools and a report on staff absenses (sic). The audience was dwindling. So Vallas and much of his staff got up and left (they did not “storm”, just left). Vallas said as he left that he wasn’t going to make reports if there was no one there to listen.”
In an interesting side note, the CT Post reporter apparently went back into her story and added the language “they did not “storm”, just left) after various people referred to her initial story.
In any case, the CT Post article wrapped up with, “The board then debated whether to refer the question of staff attendance at meetings to the policy committee for quite a while. By then, there were only six members present and the motion passed. The meeting which started before 6 p.m., ended just before 11 p.m.”
The CT Post reporter’s words certainly imply that the Bridgeport Board of Education is so dysfunctional that it was appropriate for the superintendent to leave (or storm) out of the meeting.
So now let’s examine the actual facts:
The CT Post reported that, “The meeting which started before 6 p.m., ended just before 11 p.m.”
The truth is there was a SPECIAL Bridgeport Board of Education Meeting schedule for 5:45 and the Regular Board meeting was not scheduled to begin until 6:30. It may have been a long night but that is in part because the superintendent and Board Chair decided to hold not one, but two Board of Education meetings that night.
Second, we can’t tell from the reporter’s comments exactly when Superintendent Vallas left. Does the reporters’ reference to “Three hours into the city school board meeting Monday” mean he left at 8:45 – three hours after the special meeting began or at 9:30 – three hours after the regular board meeting began?
More importantly, do superintendents generally walk out of meetings with their employer – the local board of education?
A quick survey of some other Connecticut boards of education revealed that in my town of Mansfield, a recent board meeting lasted from 7:30 till 11:00 – The Superintendent did not walk about.
In New Britain, a board of education meeting lasted from 6:30 to 10:45 – The superintendent did not walk.
And in Glastonbury a board meeting went from 7:00 to 11:02 – the superintendent did not walk about.
The most relevant piece of news wasn’t even reported and that is that this is the second meeting in as many months in which Vallas walked (or stormed) out of an ongoing board of education meeting.
More importantly, in Connecticut, superintendents of schools do not walk or storm out of board of education meetings.
They don’t do it in Mansfield after 3 ½ hour meetings, they don’t it in New Britain after 4 ¼ hour meetings and they don’t in Glastonbury after 3 ½ hour meetings.
But Vallas left… walking or storming…again.
And instead of focusing on that extraordinary action, the CT Post reporter actually made it seem that it was the democratically elected representatives of the people of Bridgeport who were the ones that were out of line and responsible for irritating Bridgeport’s $234,000 part-time superintendent that he rightfully left during the middle of a board of education meeting.