The Bylaws of the Bridgeport Board of Education: Policy 9270: Conflict of Interest

As a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Hernan Illingworth took actions that directly benefited him and the company that he works for.

That is an ethics violation.

It is a serious ethics violation and it requires action.

Mayor Finch, the state is waiting to see how you handle this issue.

The Bylaws of the Bridgeport Board of Education: Policy 9270:  Conflict of Interest

“(1)   No member of the Board shall have any direct pecuniary interest in a contract with the school district, nor shall he/she furnish directly any labor, equipment, or supplies to the district.  It is not the intent of this bylaw to prevent the district from contracting with corporations or businesses because a Board member is an employee of the firm.  However, in such instances the member may be expected to declare his/her association with the firm and will refrain from debating or voting on the question.”

The spirit of the Conflict of Interest rule is simple enough.

If you are a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education and your job is with a company that is connected to the functioning of the school system, you are expected to declare your association with that company and abstain from discussing or voting on issues related to the products or services provided by that company.

Hernan Illingworth works for Uniformz.  He sells uniforms to students and families who attend Bridgeport’s schools.

As reported here at Wait, What?, according to the company website, the uniform company  that Illingworth works for opened a much larger, more accessible store on Main Street in July 2009 in preparation for the implementation of Bridgeport’s new uniform policy.

As the company’s website explained, “The main reason for this move was to handle the school uniform needs of Bridgeport parents after a new uniform mandate (K-8) went into effect for the 2009/2010 school season.”

The website goes on to report, “Uniformz quickly became the “ground zero” of the back-to-school uniform rush! The Bridgeport PAC held a press conference, TV news crews arrived throughout August and our overflowing parking lot caused some minor traffic jams on Main Street.”

The Bridgeport PAC mentioned on the Uniformz website is the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council and Hernan Illingworth was the President of that Parent Advisory Council.

Ramos/Illingworth Letter to Parents

In fact, in the spring of 2009, John Ramos, in his capacity as Bridgeport’s Superintendent of Schools and Hernan Illingworth, the President of the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council (PAC) were on the cover of the Bridgeport Board of Education Newsletter.

That cover was a letter to parents and students informing the community that the Bridgeport Board of Education had formally adopted a mandatory uniform policy for K-8 students.  According to the letter, “This policy was enacted after several months of meetings and with collaboration between parents, the Board of Education and District Administration. The letter informed parents that the mandatory school uniform policy would officially be enacted in August 2009.

The letter ended with the news that, “In the coming months the District Executive PAC will work with every school to provide more information to parents to ensure the implementation of the policy.”  It was signed by John J. Ramos and Hernan Illingworth.  However, nowhere did Hernan Illingworth explain he was a salesman for Uniformz.

CT Post Covers Uniform Policy

On August 31, 2009, the CT Post’s Linda Conner Lambeck wrote a story entitled, “FOLLOWING A NEW UNIFORM CODE.”  In it she wrote, “Outside Uniformz, a new shop on upper Main Street, a sandwich-board sign proclaims ‘Bpt. Public School Uniforms, 10% Sibling Discount.’”

Lambeck added, “On Wednesday, if the policy works, a sea of nearly 15,000 students, all wearing collared shirts, and dress trousers — not a baggy pair of jeans in the bunch — should converge on the schools for the first day of classes.”

The story listed Hernan Illingworth as the President of the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and as one of the parents who successfully pushed the uniform policy.  However, the story failed to note that Illingworth worked for Uniformz.

The CT Post did explain that, “planners anticipate a child can get by with a wardrobe of three to five pairs of pants, six tops and a sweater for about $120. Logos, for schools that have adopted them, would be an additional cost.”

At the time, Hernan Illingworth told the CT Post that it would take time to get full participation in the uniform policy, but added, “If we get 75 percent on the first day, I think that would be a nice goal. Once the 21-day grace period is over, I think participation will become more universal.”

In April 2011, the Bridgeport Board of Education voted to expand the district’s uniform policy to cover high school students.  At the time, the CT Post wrote, “Hernan Illingworth, president of the District PAC, said uniforms were a much easier “sell” this time around because the policy is already in place in the elementary schools.”

Illingworth appointed by Malloy Administration to illegal Board of Education

By the end of that summer, in August 2011, Hernan Illingworth became the seventh member of Bridgeport’s new, illegal Board of Education.  As noted on the Only in Bridgeport Blog, Illingworth was the “second Finch campaign supporter” named to the Board, the first being Finch’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Moales.

As the Only in Bridgeport blog reported, at the time, Finch’s campaign website included a testimonial by Illingworth in which he wrote, “Being both the Mayor and a father to children in Bridgeport Public Schools puts the Mayor in a unique position. His commitment and dedication to improving education shows.”

As the request of Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, the illegal Board of Education then brought on Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent.

One of the initial actions following Vallas’ arrival was the creation of the Bridgeport Education Reform Fund.  The Chairman of the illegally appointed Board of Education, Robert Trefry, announced that the names of donors to the fund would be kept confidential and that a committee would be created to oversee the distribution of the funds.   Trefry then appointed Andy Boas, the Chairman of Achievement First – Bridgeport, Anita Gliniecki, Bruce Hubler and Hernan Illingworth to manage the fund.

As part of Mayor Finch’s slate of Democratic candidates, Illingworth later ran and won a seat on the democratically elected board.

Most recently, rather than abstain from any discussions about school uniforms, Hernan Illingworth has used his position to pressure Bridgeport school administrators to get tough on forcing students to buy and wear school uniforms.

As was reported in Wait, What?

Last week, with only about 40 days left to the 2012-2013 school year, Central High School announced that they would begin enforcing Bridgeport’s district-wide school uniform policy.

As the CT Post wrote, “The edict, made during morning announcements Tuesday by Principal Stephen Anderson and sent home to parents by letter, was ordered by the district administration after some board members learned that the district’s 2-year-old high school uniform policy was being ignored at Central.”

That Board of Education member was Hernan Illingworth…who just happens to be a salesman for Bridgeport based Uniformz, whose website reports that the company is, “the premier local supplier of School Uniforms to the students of the Bridgeport (CT) Public School System.”

In this case, Central High School’s new principal, Stephen Anderson, was not a fan of the uniform policies for high schools, but Bridgeport School Board member, Hernan Illingworth, explained to the CT Post, “I am sorry, that is unacceptable… “It is a district policy. He can’t decide he is not going to do it.”

It is hard to imagine that the violation of Bridgeport’s code of ethics and conflict of interest rules could be any clearer.

Hernan Illingworth was, and continues to be, a major force behind the effort to require Bridgeport students to wear school uniforms.

Illingworth works for a company that proudly proclaims that school uniforms are a vital part of their business.

Rather than announce his conflict of interest and exempt himself from discussions and actions related to school uniforms, Illingworth used his position to push for greater enforcement of the uniform policy.

As a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Hernan Illingworth took actions that directly benefited him and the company that he works for.

That is an ethics violation.

It is a serious ethics violation and it requires action.

Mayor Finch, the state is waiting to see how you handle this issue.

  • jschmidt2

    Ethics? This is Bridgeport run by Finch and Malloy.

    • jonpelto

      This is why i appreciate you being a regular reader…. your ability to use far fewer words to make the point!

    • 1987tsd

      Business as usual in the Hollow! If it weren’t for corrupt politics, B’port wouldn’t have any politics at all.

      Bridgeport…where the circus never left town.

  • TMS

    Jonathan ~

    I know what I’m asking about has nothing to do with this blog, but I just saw this online and wanted to know if this is good or bad news:
    .
    http://conncan.org/publications-media/press-releases/appropriations-budget-cuts-471-million-education-reform-law

    I’m not as savvy as your other followers, I learn something new from all of you everyday.I’m hoping you can let me know if ConnCan is angry because the rug is being pulled out from under them or if this means our public schools will continue to suffer for lack of funding.

    • Linda174

      In my opinion and after scanning, as I have read Ms.
      Alexander’s corporate written press release in other venues, she is upset that the destruction of public schools and tenured teachers will slow down.

      The goal is to reduce the labor costs, so money can be funneled into charters, temporary TFA type interns, edupreneurs and other scams being sold as “reform”. Her posse has hijacked the word.

      The ultimate goal of the corporate shysters is to destroy the union, deprofessionalize the teaching profession and funnel the taxpayers funds elsewhere. Of course, the wealthy will protect their children sending them to schools with small class size, no standardized testing and they won’t have to abide by the national standards being touted as state led, which is a LIE.

      So, with help from the overlords, she is grasping for a renewal to the orginal SB 24 and the intent was to start with the cities and destroy public education.

    • jonpelto

      First off its not true!

      Hadn’t seen it but a quick read it is bull.

      Will write up a more substantive post

      Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos