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BoE approves SoNoCC after-school program memorandum; ‘excessive’ comments squelched

NORWALK, Conn. – An after-school program for South Norwalk youth was approved Tuesday by the Norwalk Board of Education, despite complaints about a lack of communication with the public from board members whose comments were then shut down by Board Chairman Mike Lyons.

Superintendent Manny Rivera answered questions from board member Shirley Mosby about Title I funding and security in regard to the program proposed to take place at the South Norwalk Community Center, and about the process by which his recommendation had been made. Mosby wanted to speak again on the topic, but Lyons called for a vote as she was speaking. The proposal passed, 8 to 1, with Mosby as the only dissenting vote.

“You’re trying to suppress my voice?” Mosby asked, as Lyons proceeded with the vote.

“I am following Robert’s Rules,” he said.

“You are trying to silence me and that’s not right,” she said.

The debate on the topic began immediately after the public speaking session.

Mosby said the memorandum of understanding between SoNoCC and the BOE was not in the board packet posted online. “There isn’t anything about this out there for the public to see,” Mosby said.

NancyOnNorwalk had a story on March 5 about the apparent plan to use the center in response to comments made by Rivera as he presented his literacy plan. NoN published another story April 7 and attached a copy on the memorandum of understanding after requesting a copy from Lyons.

“What I worry about is the fact that this is a no-brainer,” Rivera said. “This is about increasing access for kids to quality educational programs. That is what this is all about. And anyone who has an issue with that, I don’t know what to say.”

He later said that the memorandum is non-binding. He was looking for authorization to finalize the agreement and draw up a contract with the assistance of city attorneys.

He said he is in the process of preparing another letter of intent for another site for after-school learning, mentioning visits to Washington Village and Colonial Village, and talks with a pastor regarding a church.

“This is not a one-site recommendation,” he said. “I would love to see three or four, potentially five satellite sites, to the extent that we can afford them, operating quality programs, where teachers are trained, where the Norwalk Public Schools is part of that program oversight and the training that has to take place for teachers as well as the quality of the instructional program.”

Mosby said that people in South Norwalk had not been given the opportunity to comment on the plan. “I want to find out how that happened,” she said.

Several board members are from South Norwalk and could have contributed helpful information, but everyone was kept in the dark, she said.

Rivera said that his intentions to open a South Norwalk satellite center were announced as part of the comprehensive literacy plan, which was unanimously authorized by the board.

“I took that as a green light,” he said. With so much to do he had gotten to work right away, he said.

Rivera stressed that the recommendation is part of the board’s strategic plan to reduce the achievement gap by 2020.

Migdalia Rivas said that the program looked like a “great thing.”

“I guess everybody wants to be a part of that. They wouldn’t have commented that they wanted to be excluded,” she said, in reference to comments made by public speakers.

Bobby Burgess was one of two speakers who expressed disdain.

“I wonder what happened to community input and community participation,” Burgess said. “We are not saying we are for or against, it’s the lack of knowledge to clearly understand what we are doing and how we are doing it. … I think it is a sin that you plan a community program like this and we don’t know about it.”

Board member Rosa Murray also complained about “the style of communication.” But Sherelle Harris said she was “very happy” about the program, which she said had been needed for a long time. She had helped to organize an after-school program a few years ago and had the “hardest time” arranging transportation.

“I think this is a big plus for all the children, whether they be black, white or Hispanic,” she said. “… I am just very glad this is being addressed.”

Lyons said it is common for governmental bodies to authorize a chief executive officer to negotiate a contract, so there is no legal grounds for objection. The literacy plan had been approved with the intention for a satellite center spelled out, he said.

“The reality is that this board sets policy,” he said. “We adopt policies — we adopt budgets, we adopt spending programs for $165 million — all the time and we do not put those things to a vote of people at public hearings. Obviously we want to hear from the community and get their input, but at the end of the day the board was elected by the population to make these kinds of decisions. We make all sorts of decisions that we don’t subject to pre-review and approval by people who show up at a public hearing. We want to hear what they have to say but they don’t get a veto.”

Mosby tried to speak again in reponse. He did not allow it, telling her she was out of order.

Lyons said he sent an email to the board after the March 18 board meeting. The email  included lengthy comments from Rivas before the vote on the literacy plan. Lyons said he would try to streamline meetings by enforcing Robert’s Rules (rule 43) in fairness to the public.

“Dilatory motions and other actions that only serve to slow down our meetings are discouraged by the rules,” Lyons wrote. “Excessively repetitive statements in debates add little of substance, but delay the meeting. At our last meeting, many members of the public hoping to see the vote on the literacy plan gave up and left as the debate dragged on.”

Comments

26 responses to “BoE approves SoNoCC after-school program memorandum; ‘excessive’ comments squelched”

  1. ForthePeoplenotGreed

    A non profit working with the city on this level is required to have regularly scheduled Board meetings that are open to the public. When did all of the rules go out the window?…Is any of the other two Board members making any decisions besides Warren Pena? Where are their financial records. The moment the city’s BOE votes to enter an agreement with them all their books, financials, filings should be required by the city and be public. The fact of the matter is, if anyone in the City actually looked into things there would be huge holes which scares me because this is how the City is run. Someone asked on one of the articles if property was ever bought with NEON money. Well we can ask the same about SONO CC. Open up your books so we can see if property was purchased and personal bills were paid.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @forThepeople…

      As a 501c3 organization, SoNoCc is required to make its financials available to the public at all times via federal reporting form. We have not stopped in and asked, but we have been told the records are available for inspection at the office.

  2. Norwalk Spectator

    Okay, so Mosby’s against it.
    .
    What else is new?
    .
    Actually, it begs the question of whether she’s been for anything that the Board had done since Dr. Rivera arrived. For someone who supposedly cares so much about the Norwalk students, it seems like the only thing she really cares about is her opinion. As much as it pains me to say it, at least Rivas sent her comments in to the administration.
    .
    How was the community not informed? I knew about it, as a matter of fact, I was baffled over the fact that there was opposition to the plan. And I’m sure that Dr. Rivera reads NON as does Mr. Lyons.
    .
    Mr. Burgess keeps complaining about the lack of community input and participation. So why hasn’t the community done anything about this before? Oh, wait, I get it! It’s not acceptable because it wasn’t the “community’s” idea. Okay, Mr. Burgess and Ms. Mosby, let’s toss the idea out the window and just continue on as we have in the past.

  3. Silence Dogood

    The achievement gap will never be closed as long as there are “leaders” in society like Mosby who are in it for themselves first and the kids last.

  4. DistrictBDem

    @ForthePeoplenotGreed aka Travis
    Who says SoNoCC is not having regularly scheduled meetings? What rules are you referring to? How would you even know what rules are, when you can’t even follow direction on an application and lie about conversations you haven’t even had? There are rules to the council which is clear you are not abiding by and should be brought up on ethics charges. A board of directors consists of members, and Warren Pena is not the sole member, therefore other members have votes and make decisions. You clearly do not have an understanding of proper protocols. Why don’t you take your energy and read, learn, ask questions or get educated on how things work, then ask intelligent questions. Shouldn’t you know where their financial records are? You were on the board at one point. This agreement is not with the city or the public, it is with the BOE, you must pay attention here because you are not making any sense.

    Huge holes? What are you referring to? Again, makes no sense. SONOCC has never bought property because they have not had the money to do so. Again, wouldn’t you know this as a former board member? Personal bills? It is a shame that you are in bed with Mr. Burgess and Mr. Morris. Why don’t you stop focusing on Mr. Pena and SONOCC and do something for a change. You haven’t done one thing besides embarass yourself and our district.

  5. anonymous

    The unions publicly endorsed Shirley Mosby for the Board of Education, the ‘same’ was good enough for them. Seems she may be voting the way she was endorsed to vote.

  6. Ms. Ruby Mcpherson

    WHO REALLY KNOWS WHO IS RIGHT OR WRONG, COMING FROM NEW CANAAN AND TRYING TO MOVE THINGS TO FAST, THE REDEVELOPMENT,CITY WHO EVER SHOULD HAVE LOOKED AT THE BOOKS BEFORE HAND, AS EVERYTHING THEY WANT TO BLAME ON NEON. THEY PAID NO BILLS, PREVIOUS DIRECTOR WAS TO KNOW HOW TO WRITE GRANTS, YET THEY RELIED ON NEON. THE MISSED MANAGEMENT OF THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION, DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVER THING SHOULD END IN SOUTH NORWALK, THEY HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER, BECAUSE MORE THAN 70% OF SERVICES WAS FOR LATINOS.

  7. Marjorie M

    Using Title 1 grant funds is illegal. Do we want to lose all federal funds by using grants illegally?

  8. Marj, you’re wrong. Our counsel has cleared this use of Title 1 funds as perfectly legal, and he (Tom Mooney) is one of the best-respected education attorneys in the State. We’re not going to lose Federal funds by using a portion of them to do exactly what they were intended for — helping disadvantaged kids succeed.

  9. Dawn

    i do not understand what Marjorie M is talking about. but i hope that someone is checking all the fact before they make any wrong descisions.
    .
    but i will say that i have faith that Dr. Rivera is getting things done.
    .
    how is it that no one in the past has ever addressed the fact that South Norwalk does not have a school. INCREDIBLE!!!

  10. ForthePeoplenotGreed

    Districtbdem aka Pat what are you talking about?…I know for a fact the City isnt doing their research because the SONO CC registered with the state in 2014 isn’t the same one registered in 2013. Therefore they are taking credit for things they didn’t do. Check the records and the names. The truth is there…

  11. ForthePeoplenotGreed

    The question is, who at the state level allowed them to break the law?

  12. ForthePeoplenotGreed

    Just like with NEON the people are speaking out because we have another non profit up to no good. It will be a million dollars later before the city wants to realize and take action.

  13. ScopeonNorwalk

    I would he interested in seeing SONO CC’s books. I have heard that the former Director was let go for using funds for personal reasons. I heard it from Warren himself as well as others so that should be in their financial records and if it isn’t one would have to question the validity of the records they are providing.

  14. Loveforthecity

    Beautiful! Excellent! Another positive improvement brought back to South Norwalk by SoNoCC.

    Amazing how some want to divert attention to negativity because they have nothing else better to do with their time.

    At this point, I think some so called “leaders” are just jealous.

  15. anonymous

    Marjorim M seems familiar with Title 1, along the lines of a disgruntled school principal.

  16. Loveforthecity

    @ForthepeoplenotGreed
    How obvious is it that you are Travis Simms?

  17. DistrictBDem

    Travis Simms = Bobby Burgess = Bruce Morris
    The next trio to be broken up.

  18. Marjorie M

    It appears to me that many of the comments on this site are trying to .break up” the groups of one color. Racism anyone?

  19. Ms. Ruby Mcpherson

    @DAWN JUST SO YOU KNOW COLUMBUS WAS SOUTH NORWALK SCHOOL, UNTIL IT WAS TAKEN TO BECOME A MAGNET. THE INTEGRATION STARTED THE BUSING OF CHILDREN TO SCHOOLS THAT WAS BEING FUNDED BETTER HOPING THEY WOULD GET A BETTER QUALITY EDUCATION, ALTHOUGH THE SYSTEM DIDN’T WORK FOR MINORITY CHILD IN THERE SCHOOL.
    IF SONCC WAS FINE PER STATE FOR INAPPROPRIATE AFTER SCHOOL (NO LICENCE AND PROPER FOOTAGE PER CHILD) WHO GOING TO PAY THAT FINE THE CITY. PERHAPS IT WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED THE RIGHT WAY AND WITH A PERCENTAGE OF DIVERSITY IN ALL THE COMMUNITY?

  20. anonymous

    Marjorie M rather than change the subject, tell us which principal you are.

  21. Lifelong Teacher

    I think Marjorie is a retired central office person. She is way too out of touch with anything that’s happened in literacy instruction in the past 10 years or so. I would be shocked if she was one of our principals.

  22. Anne Sullivan

    Free, high-quality afterschool and Saturday school? Build it, and they will come. Bravo, Dr. Rivera.

  23. Marjorie M

    Yes, I am LM. Yes, I am a disgruntled principal. Yes I am a retired administrator. Yes, I am from Mars or is that Saturn? All wrong. Waste your time guessing.

  24. Community

    Financial Accounting was requested from south norwalk to justify to dss how money was being used. Warren said NEON took it now he is saying his aunt the previous director took it. Am I missing something? The director and assistant director are husband and wife at the south norwalk center but the assistant director and warren blasted neon for nepotism. Am I missing something here? South norwalk has no financials when was their last audit, are they a 501 c 3, where is there 990, bylaws, board members, board minutes. Am I missing something here? Will dss investigate? Something smells fishy. What dudiligence did the city or superintendent take. Sounds like more kickback. Who is investigating this? Question how many so called educated people were at the table for this. We want everyone to be successful but it seems as though people have intentionally pitted communities against one another for a race wore and yet the same problems exist Poverty. Its time for the truth and no more backdoor deals. The FBI needs to come to corrupt norwalk and the Governor ashamed of hisself for allowing this fishy crap.

  25. Bill

    It is amazing to see the black community, which is slowly losing power and money in south Norwalk, turn their anger at the groups largely helping other groups in the community. Wake up, Latinos are 70% of south Norwalk. You guys are the old regime, and you did a horrible job managing services with neon. Can’t wait to see you guys finally lose power.

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