Anger bubbles over at Norwalk BOE

NORWALK, Conn. – Tempers flared at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting over  issues related to South Norwalk.

First, longtime-Democratic activist Bobby Burgess protested an announcement made by Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera at last week’s Mayor’s Night Out in South Norwalk. Rivera answered Burgess. Then longtime-South Norwalk activist John Mosby went through one of his usual rants, referring to comments made at the last board meeting and threatening a $10 million lawsuit, in addition to unhappiness with minutes he said were inaccurate. That drew a hot response from BOE member Jack Chiaramonte.

Rivera said last week that there have been “very serious discussions about opening another school in the South Norwalk area.” This was in response to several people who protested that their children could not attend school in their own neighborhood.

Norwalk District B Democratic leader Bobby Burgess.

Not nice, Burgess said.

“No community people knew about this new school, what it will do and why we are doing it. What happened to community participation and community agreement?” he asked.

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF), the NAACP, Democrats and other community leaders didn’t know about it, he said, asking if it were somehow a secret.

“I want to know why is this plan going on?” he asked. “Why would the Board of Education, duly elected representatives here to represent the entire community, why would you plan a school in South Norwalk without anybody knowing about it? … We are not doing all the things we should be doing in the school system now? We should be closing the achievement gap. I think you owe the community an apology.”

Rivera responded, repeating some of the things he said last week at the Mayor’s Night Out, which Burgess attended.

“I know what I said,” Rivera said. “Let me just share with you that there have been some discussions about potentially possibly having a school in the South Norwalk area. That statement that I made arose from the question about access of children who live (South Norwalk) … Those families have to choose a school after everybody else is selected. They are placing kindergarten children in June, July sometimes as late as August and it just so happens that these families happen to be families who are African American and Latino. The last choice. Quite honestly, I think it’s been a discriminatory practice, so what we need to do is change that so there are more options.”

Opening a new school would be a year-long process, he said.

“Let me assure you there’s been no decision made about putting a school in South Norwalk, but rather I am, in all honesty and frankness and transparency, very seriously looking at the fact that I believe we would benefit from having a school in the South Norwalk area,” he said. “So I’ll be the first to tell you that I am fully aware that you have to have an inclusive process that’s got to be one that actually meets a need… “

Burgess wanted to argue with Rivera.

“This is not a debate,” said BOE Vice Chairman Artie Kassimis. Kassimis ran the meeting in the absence of Chairman Mike Lyons, who said in an email that he is sick.

Mosby said the minutes do not accurately reflect the comments that are made.

“There’s been a lot of things in the paper, talking about my son, talking about my daughter, talking about me. I want to let the public know they’re a bunch of lies,” he said. “… You all got to straighten up and fly right because if you all don’t stop putting these things in the paper you’re all going to be sued for libel. It’s a shame and a disgrace what you put in there.”

Mosby also criticized Rivera. “You been very unfair to me,” he said.

He repeated racial complaints he made two weeks ago, that there aren’t enough black and Hispanic teachers.

Chiaramonte began talking in a normal tone but became hot very fast.

“I come here, I have to hear racist rants, tell us all how ‘Briggs was all a black school and you’re layering with Hispanics and it should be black, it should be black’ — if I came here and I said to you — “ he said, before Kassimis tried to shut him down.

“I am tired of hearing his racist rants,” Chiaramonte said to Kassimis. “Take it somewhere else,” he said to Mosby.

Mosby walked away with a comment of “Don’t play a game with me,” as Rivera continued the meeting with positive comments.

The board later went into an executive session to consider a complaint filed by Mosby against Lyons, which was inspired by a story on this website, and other things. Mosby was not allowed in. His daughter recused herself. The executive session lasted perhaps 20 minutes.

Lyons last week offered an emailed response to Mosby’s comments about the lack of minority teachers.

“His numbers are a bit off, but it is correct that a large majority of the teachers in Norwalk are white (about 85 percent). We have 54 African-American teachers, 55 Hispanic, 14 Asian, and 741 white. That, of course, is a condition that long predates my arriving here. I know that Dr. Rivera sees one of the primary purposes of his complete overhaul of the HR Department as improving staff recruitment, including recruitment of qualified minority teachers. See the first two bullets on his HR Reorg plan (attached, highlighted), and see slides 10, 11 and 22 of his budget presentation (also attached).

“Now of course, I reject completely the view that teachers should be hired to fill racial quotas (doing so would be illegal under Federal constitutional law), and I also reject the idea that only minority teachers can teach minority kids (just as I would reject the idea that only white teachers can teach white kids). Recruitment of qualified minority teachers means just that – actively searching for them and getting them to apply, and hiring those who are qualified (and I am sure that there are many). Dr. Rivera – himself a minority – certainly sees that as a priority, and I share his view.

“But this will be a gradual process. We can’t fire large numbers of white teachers just because they are white; only over time can those numbers change. Those who demand instant change (like Mr. Mosby on minority hiring, or bloggers who want us to suddenly start cutting people’s salaries), seem oblivious of all of the mandates and union contracts we operate under. We will soldier on, although unloved!”

Finance Committee 12-10-13

HR Reorganization



19 responses to “Anger bubbles over at Norwalk BOE”

  1. srb

    More proof that Chiaramonte has the wrong tenor for a BOE seat. Kassimis seems to understand its better to let people rant and rave than getting into a pushing match with them. My sense is that Mr. Mosby may have a good point or two once in a while but the more he speaks the more he undermines his position.


    Sure thing John Mosby …. those quotes aren’t lies …. you just love the bully pulpit …like the rest of your family. And now you’ve been exposed and you don’t like it. Tough luck. You’ve cost NPS, the City and the State a ridiculous amount of money with your frivolous charges and suits. Enough is enough.

  3. Lifelong Teacher

    Please don’t anyone give John Mosby any more attention and publicity. He is a racist and incredible. He has wasted so much of the City’s time and resources over the years – and now he is threatening more with this ridiculous lawsuit.


    This has been going on long enough.

  4. John Levin

    Time to switch to a different dentist?

  5. anonymous

    The man wastes time and costs Norwalk schools time and money defending frivolous lawsuits that could be put to better use.

  6. LisaLen

    Mosby is not interested in working with the city/BOE for any kind of positive change. it’s his way or the highway – or he will sue. Please, NON, stop validating his cause by reporting on this anymore. We’re not interested.

  7. @ srb : Actually we need more like Dhiaramonte on the BOE. I can’t imagine having to listen to the racial rantings of Mosby meeting after meeting. So according to you srb, we should allow Mosby to utter his racial rantings as much as he wants and we should all have to sit there and listen to it. Would you let your child speak such vile polarizing language? I don’t think so. Finally some one put him in his place. It should of been done long ago when he first started with his rantings. Maybe now Mosby will think twice before spewing his racism. I agree with YANKEECLIPPER and LifeLongTeacher – Enough is Enough!

  8. Oldtimer

    Mosby believes what he believes, and the statistics support him. He is passionate about calling for change and has his own style which some find offensive. Nobody likes having their mistakes pointed out, or being threatened with lawsuits. People (Dr Rivera, notably) agree with a lot of what he says, and are doing their best to correct past mistakes, but it cannot and will not happen overnight. Jack Chiaramonte attacking Mosby as a racist is not a well thought out response and contributes very little to the discussion. The statistics show a past pattern of what looks like discriminatory hiring and there is no good defense for it.

  9. anon

    When Mosby’s own mistakes are pointed out he sues too. An article on this site from 1996 said it best, more than 20 years of lawsuits and he keeps losing http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1916&dat=19960322&id=KypJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pAYNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1750,2869156

  10. Inquiring Mind

    After reading this story, which is the third or fourth on Mr. Mosby, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that he is right and that Briggs should be a black school. We should send all the black students to Briggs with all black teachers and let them do their own thing. Truthfully, I was never aware that black students are incapable of learning from a teacher of another race, and neither were our friends who are not white.
    Oh, yeah, and by the way, regarding Mr. Mosby’s previous remark about the District only hiring black “secretaries”, this didn’t occur to me until I happened to see Reginald Roberts the other day. Apparently according to Mr. Mosby’s standards, both Mr. Roberts and Dr. Allen are secretaries and I here I thought they were school principals.

  11. Lifelong Teacher

    Don’t forget Mrs. Sumpter and Dr. Moore, along with many assistant principals and housemasters. If we are counting Latinos, add in Dr. Ellis and Mr. Martinez. But then Mosby apparently has a problem with that group as well.

  12. EveT

    When an individual behaves disruptively in public gatherings, he is infringing the rights of all the other people who are there for constructive reasons. There is a designated time for public comment at public meetings. Allowing public comment does not have to include allowing personal attacks, hate speech, or threats.

  13. srb

    Engaging Mosby is in my estimation what he wants. Chiaramonte is only feeding it.

  14. Don Chiodo

    Can someone find out their opinion on the lowering of the road under the Rowayton Avenue bridge and post it please?

  15. Bill

    Never forget that Mr. Mosby’s son makes $66,000 a year to mop floors 9 months out of the year. That is the true travesty and our kids suffer because of this.

  16. Joe Espo

    The Mosby family is the face of education in Norwalk. Wonderful.

  17. Inquiring Mind

    @Lifelong Teacher –
    My apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently overlooked in my very short list. My problem is that when I look at Dr. Moore, I see a highly capable woman. The same for Dr. Allen. When I look at Mr. Roberts, I see the principal of Norwalk High School who’s got to have nerves of steel to deal with that many adolescents on a daily basis. My hat is off to all of them along with Dr. Koroshetz over at BMHS, too! If I was any one of them, or any of the house masters, or Mrs. Sumpter, who I don’t think I have crossed paths with, or even the others in the District; I’d be highly insulted at the insinuation that because of their skin color the best they can be is a secretary. As a matter of fact, I am indignant on their behalf! What kind of message is Mr. Mosby sending to the Norwalk High School students? Please understand, a good secretary is worth his or her weight in gold, but to state there is some kind of glass ceiling that a group of people can never penetrate despite the fact that members of that group have already surpassed it is a grave disservice to those who have put forth the effort and to those student who want to follow in the footsteps of their leaders. It’s a pity Mr. Mosby’s world is so limited and his vision is so narrow.

  18. srb: Your estimation is erroneous. Mosby is at just about EVERY meeting spewing his racists rants. As I, and others here, have stated, Enough is Enough. Someone was needed to tell him to stop his diatribe of hatred. Maybe now he’ll shut his mouth up that someone had the good sense to call him out on it. What do you expect the board to do? Listen to Mosby’s dribble meeting after meeting and do nothing but sit there like bobble heads and take it? Oh yes, that’s exactly what you expect them to do, as you stated earlier. How foolish!

  19. Don’t Panic

    Would opening another school solve the issue of having to take a bus to a polling place? That’s another good reason to do it.

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