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‘Fractious’ Norwalk BoE argues over $25K contract

NORWALK, Conn. – Not long after being urged by a Norwalk parent to heal the fractious Board of Education last week, Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera sat with his head in his hands. He spent some time looking at the ceiling, then responded to comments from board member Shirley Mosby and Migdalia Rivas by asserting that BoE members should allow him to do his job.

More than one person involved in the latest BoE argument – this time over a last minute request to approve a $25,000 agreement with a bus company to provide transportation for out-of-district students – called it emblematic of the problems experienced by the contentious board. Mosby said it was a prime example of information being withheld from the board, Migdalia Rivas complained about the way people were reacting to her questions and Jack Chiaramonte called the conversation a waste of time.

This was about an hour and 40 minutes after a Norwalk parent who works as an assistant principal in New York and who had been to the meeting two weeks earlier, said he found the recent well-publicized Chiaramonte comment, “the girl who cried black,” troubling and disturbing.

“Without a board that works together, this district will not move forward. Dr. Rivera, this must be your top priority. As a veteran superintendent I know that you know just how important a working board is to meeting the needs of the students and the educational youth of the district,” Tony Mastrota said.

The board is fractured, said Mastrota, whose children go to Columbus Magnet School.

“I am not expecting board members to be friends or even to like one another. But each of you took an oath to work for with the staff and the students of this district. While personal issues are being resolved, the work of the board must continue. I expect healthy, constructive debate among board members in public as well as in executive sessions,” Mastrota said.

Mastrota sat through the debate about outsourcing custodial services. He left, as did most people in the audience. A battle instantly began – a battle that was emblematic of the issues facing the board.

Norwalk Public Schools Chief Business and Financial Officer Rich Rudl explained that the board was being asked to approve a $25,000 contract with Relia Transportation for an unbudgeted expense. Relia would transport eight children to out of district sites in a “rideshare” arrangement because the number of students in special education continues to grow beyond the capacity of the current contractor, ECS, Rudl said. ECS is the same company as First Student, Rudl said, although that was not in the letter given to the board. Corporation Counsel had said the BoE was within its rights to open its contract with ECS and assign routes to a different vendor, Rudl said. The funds were available to cover the expense, Rudl said.

Norwalk Board of Education member Migdalia Rivas asks questions last week in City Hall.
Norwalk Board of Education member Migdalia Rivas asks questions last week in City Hall.

Rivas peppered Rudl with questions, but not before protesting the procedure of the meeting. A back-and-forth with BoE Chairman Mike Lyons ensued as Rivas asked why the contract was under “information and reports” instead of “actions” on the board agenda.

Lyons said that was standard practice. Rivas repeated that it hadn’t been determined as an action item, it was under discussion. Lyons said, “Whatever.” Rivas said, “It’s not whatever.” Lyons said, “Ask your question.”

That continued briefly. Rivas said she didn’t want to do “whatever,” and Lyons said it was his ruling as chairman that action could be taken on the item. The staff requested that the agenda item be on there.

Rosa Murray asked why it was on the agenda. Rudl said that was because the school year was beginning. A motion was made to move the item – more procedure – four minutes after Rudl had introduced it. Rivas began her questions.

She said she didn’t know ECS and First Student were the same company and questioned why that wasn’t in the document. She asked twice what rideshare was.

Rudl said the district already does rideshare. Norwalk shares services with surrounding towns, Rudl said. Rivas said she didn’t think that was possible, especially when it’s a special needs child. “You can’t mix children,” she said. Rudl said they’d be going to the same facility. Rivas said you can’t put a 20-year-old Wilton child with a 7-year-old Norwalk child, and Rudl replied the children were within two years of age.

Rivas said other towns cannot share information about the child’s behavior.

“How are you going to ensure the safety of that child?” she asked. She asked if the parents were aware that the children were going to use rideshare.

Rudl said yes. Rivas said she wanted proof. “I do not believe that is possible,” she said. She wanted to make sure there were no legal issues, she said.

Rudl said Corporation Counsel had reviewed it.

“Corporation counsel does not specialize in special education,” Rivas said.

There were no budget codes provided on the document, Rivas said. She asked why the board wasn’t approving a budget transfer if there’s a problem with urgency. Rudl said that would happen at the next meeting. Rivas asked why there was a sample contract in the board’s packet, not a real one. She wanted to know how Relia could start picking up children this week. Rudl said the routes had been planned and trial runs had been performed.

“How could they do a trial run if the board did not approve them yet?” Rivas asked. “How could the company go out and do the routes on these eight out-of-district children if they haven’t been approved? So basically everything is already happening without the board’s approval. So you need the paperwork to back it up so we can approve it to cover up everything that was supposed to have not been done without our approval. So why did you wait until the umpteenth hour, the last hour, to go and put this together at the last minute?”

Rudl said the jump in the number of students had happened in the two weeks between board meetings.

“So in less than two weeks it was determined that the transportation company was unable to provide service?”

ECS had been saying last year that it couldn’t keep up, Rudl said.

“The number of out-of-district students has exponentially grown,” Rudl said. If routes were rearranged the schools would not make it through the entire year,” he said.

“This goes back again to us getting the information in a timely manner with everything so we can make an informed vote here tonight,” Mosby said. “This right here is a prime example of that again. Getting this in a board packet on a Friday. Now we’re talking – all these questions. If we received everything up front, the names of everything, all the information, just give that to us, we will review it and then we can make a decision. Now we are sitting here at the 11th hour because things are already put in place without the board – I know I didn’t know, without the board having knowledge … And these are the children with special needs, the most vulnerable children that we have in our system. And we’re supposed to just sit here and say ‘OK.’ I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Rivera jumped in. He repeated that the names of children who needed the service came in within the past couple of weeks.

“What we are trying to do is be as efficient as possible to make sure that they can get transportation, to get to their sites,” Rivera said. “If there is a question or concern about whether or not you can have two children from two different districts we can look into that. I don’t personally know the specific laws about that but my gut tells me that these companies have been transporting these students, they would know, they would be aware of the specifics because they’d be expected to adhere to the laws. Now, when my business person tells me that we ran a process, we had vendors come in, we made a decision. A recommendation to bring to the board … I am satisfied with that.”

He continued, “What you are asking for is such a level of detail that cuts to the crux of what sometimes causes anxiety because we sit here, and I’m not certain that some of the things we are talking about are in the purview of board detail – intimate detail versus what you hired me as CEO to do with my staff. You hired me as a manager of this organization to sort through a lot of details. We have staff who do that, bring it back to the board and we are asking you to make a decision so we can give eight children transportation to where they need to be. I am telling you, I fundamentally believe we need to have a serious discussion about what is the role of the administration and the superintendent and his or her staff versus the role of the board so we don’t have to spend hours combing through endless detail.”

“This is what we keep running into,” Murray said. She asked why the information had come in so late.

“I am sure there is a reason that you can’t share but the fact is it happened and now we are up against it,” Murray said. “But to be given this without a possible action, without having that kind of information – all you have to do is share what has taken place.”

Chiaramonte said that as a veteran board member he had no problem with the request. The numbers of the students coming in is fluid, he said.

“This has been changing day to day for them,” Chiaramonte said. “Not giving the superintendent the ability to move on the dime and we have to do this quickly before school starts – there are people who are going to file in late. Now, we don’t have a crystal ball to tell the board two weeks ahead of time or three weeks ahead of time … I don’t see anything wrong with what the superintendent is doing. I find this whole discussion a waste of time.”

Mosby said she didn’t even know the school system was thinking of switching vendors. Rivas complained that the majority members of the board reacted differently when she asked a question than when maybe Chiaramonte or Lyons asked a question.

She said had been a professional school bus driver for 15 years in Greenwich – “Big bus, little bus, Special Ed bus, executive bus, all kinds of buses.” Because of her experience, she knows what can and cannot be done, she said, urging that Rudl check on the legality.

Lyons had a different take. He complimented Rudl and Rivera for what he said was quick action to address a problem that had arisen.

“That kind of fast action and personal initiative should be complimented and I just want to let you know that I think you did a good job,” Lyons said.

The agreement with Relia was passed 4 to 3. Artie Kassimis, Heidi Keyes, Chiaramonte and Lyons voted in favor. Rivas, Mosby and Murray voted against it. Sherelle Harris and Mike Barbis were absent.

Norwalk BoE Bus explanation 005

Comments

43 responses to “‘Fractious’ Norwalk BoE argues over $25K contract”

  1. anon

    Not always in agreement with Chiramonte but his ‘waste of time’ comment on this was spot on.

    Mosby and Rivas go on and on, on, on, on, on, on, on..and on, and on, and on, on, on, on …and on

    and on

    on

    and on

  2. Yankee Clipper

    The terrible trio just waste everyone’s time. It is that simple. They obsess on minutiae … Rivera is right, this issue on SPED transportation is what we pay the professionals in Central Office to manage.

  3. One and Done

    Were there any back channel efforts to inform the two malcontents? An email or something saying, hey this is a bit off the cuff, but we’re in a jam. Or would they even bother to read it anyway?

  4. Lifelong Teacher

    I’m glad to hear that as a BUS DRIVER, Shirley Mosby is now in a position to speak about the law. This is ridiculous. No wonder Rivera had his head in his hands.

    It seems like this trio is trying to bring progress to a grinding halt.

  5. M Murray

    Although it is a waste of time, at this point you need to let them ramble on, then call for a vote. You have the votes to move things forward without them

  6. Don’t Panic

    ECS does shuttle service in Stamford with buses that handle the needs of executive office buildings. I fund it hard to believe it cant handle 8 students. Unless it doesnt want to for what we are paying.

    and it would behoove these folks in education to check the definition of exponentially. Unless the number was 2 last year, getting to 8 exponentially is pretty hard to do.

    and while operational decisions are normally something a board wouldn’t dig into, this was an outside the budget request. Board discretion is not out of bounds. Even though it passed, Ms Rivas and Ms Mosby should have their questions answered by staff.

    the procedural questions are valid. Why WAS an action buried in reports? Why wasn’t there acopy of the con t ract?

  7. C.G.

    Migdalia Rivas is/was a bus driver, not Ms. Mosby. Going over the roles of the Superintendent and the BOE in a manner which is fully comprehended by all on the board is an excellent suggestion made by Dr. Rivera. It’s not clear if this constant bantering is really under the guise of doing what is right by our children or if they simply enjoy the drama it creates. A review of eveyone’s responsibilities may be helpful here. Should the BOE have been made aware of the need for the other bus transportation company prior to the proposal in the packet? Do BOE members get the information packets days/hours before they are uploaded to the NPS website? Is this sort of expenditure discussed in committee meetings prior to the general BOE meeting? Or is there an amount threshold the Superintendent can not surpase before having whatever expenditure added to the action items on the agenda?

  8. Casey Smith

    Lifelong – I believe it was Ms. Rivas who drove a bus for 15 years, not Ms. Mosby.

  9. Casey Smith

    Interesting that these three members feel the administration was witholding information because they only learned of these 8 students within the last two weeks. Haven’t these Board members been present when projected enrollments were discussed in the past? The Title 1 funding is based on the various enrollments as of October 1st, which means that even the Federal Government recognizes that there is some ebb and flow during the first month or so when school starts.
    .
    It seems like this trio feel they need to oppose everything that is presented to the Board in order to let the public know they are “doing their job”, but if I was the parent of one of these special needs students, I’d be furious that they were blocking my child’s transportation.

  10. Ziggy Stardust

    Anyone out there looking at Shirley Mosby’s face on the video tapes above? After observing her for just a few minutes, I’ve never seen so many facial expression changes on one person in such a short period of time. As Rivas pontificates on and on ….and on, Shirley Mosby sits there making faces, scowling, head bobbing up and down, side to side, smirking, every facial expression one can imagine. She was acting like a mime on steroids. It had me wondering if she suffered from multiple personality disorder. I know I suffered just watching her act like a teenage school girl. […] Isn’t the facial expressions she is guilty of performing, the same expressions she complains about coming from the other board members she falsely accused of being racist? Sure is. […]

    This comment has been edited to remove racially mocking references.

  11. EveT

    If Rivas thinks they react differently when a question is asked by one of the non-minority members than when she asks it, maybe she should look at her own tone of voice, body language, and aimless, long-winded style of delivering a question.
    Rivera is right: “we need to have a serious discussion about what is the role of the administration and the superintendent and his or her staff versus the role of the board so we don’t have to spend hours combing through endless detail.”

  12. Suzanne

    As to dynamics: these three women have segregated themselves (unless seating is assigned) opposite and separate from the BOE Chair and together. That they feel left out or there is some obscure reaction to their questions as opposed to other BOE members? Put them in between the remaining board members. Flood them with paper for the meetings for any item on the agenda so they cannot claim they are not being informed.
    *
    I felt like I was watching a discussion between a husband and wife about a household budget not the level of professionalism required of a BOE. (Which makes Ms. Rivas’ hurt feelings about other board members faces especially apt.)
    *
    While their requests for more information maybe valid, as long as these three women sit together as though a bastion against racism and self-segregated, there will be no progress with their excessive banter and/or buddy system. Dynamics to be discussed, of course, but right now they have girded themselves against the “enemy” which is everyone else on the Board.
    *
    Frankly, as though everyone else doesn’t know this, this BOE has devolved in spite of Mr. Lyons’ best efforts and needs remediation now if the dynamics are not changed and the CEO is not allowed to do his job.

  13. Mike Lyons

    Panic – “Why WAS an action buried in reports? Why wasn’t there acopy of the contract?”
    .
    The item on the agenda said “Possible Action”, as dozens of other matters that have been approved unanimously by the Board have been; it wasn’t “buried”. And a copy of the contract was in the packet (delivered to all Board members four days before the meeting). Ms. Rivas was even reading sections of it during the meeting.
    .
    Suzanne, while micro-managing as attempted by three of our members Tuesday night is clearly wasteful, under Roberts Rules they have the right to ask these questions and I as Chair cannot prevent it. Let me be direct, though; I would rather have a “fractious” Board whose majority consistently supports the Superintendent and is making great strides for our schools, then a Board that waters down reforms just for the sake of “peace”. GREAT things are happening in our schools now (https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/opinion-a-status-report-from-the-board-of-education), and the majority is not going to be knocked off course by this stuff.

  14. Don’t Panic

    Thanks Mr Lyons.
    The a article says “sample” contract. If the actual contact was there, I apologize. Ditto for the agenda item. I stand corrected.
    .
    Would appreciate the addressing of the cspabilities of ECS. I willl assune nobody meant to inspire drama when using the word exponentially in reference to 8 students.

  15. Oldtimer

    There is already a budgeted bus contract. Isn’t transporting these special needs students their responsibility ? If the number of special needs students has increased more than was anticipated when they bid, all that should be an issue is a request for a bit more money to meet this unanticipated need. Getting a second company involved without a bidding process is, at best, confusing, if not illegal. If the 2nd company is owned by the bus company or even a subcontractor, the problem is the bus company wants a little bit more money. They probably could handle the need without more.
    The superintendent is right. He is paid big money to run the system and transferring this much, as part of running the system, should not need to be a BOE item.
    He is not asking for more than was budgeted.
    Mr Lyons is right that questions and differing opinions need to be heard in a democratic process and democracy is not as neat and efficient some might like. For board members to assume there is a racial motive behind Mosby or Rivera’s questions is making the same mistake Mosby makes when she blames the attitudes she encounters on racial bias. Listening and understanding her, or anyone’s questions is not always easy and gets harder when the listener is too busy figuring out a headline-grabbing response. Mike Lyons does a commendable job in a tough position, but even he finds it hard to keep his impatience out of the discussion when he gets more concerned with efficiency than democratic process. Some others don’t seem to make any effort to conceal their impatience and prefer to just support the chairman and go home rather than “waste” time on discussion.

  16. Ark

    Where is Harry Rilling? Didn’t he promise to attend BoE meetings. Why isn’t he at these meetings to control these three unfocused and distracted members of his South Norwalk team. I guess Harry is spending all of his time trying to ruin West Norwalk and Kendal neighborhoods with his campaign supporter’s mosque to actually try to help our school system. As always Harry is a no show

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Ark

      The mayor has involved himself in the situation, as we reported here. As for the mosque, the Zoning Commission and Common Council get to decide what to do with the settlement proposal.

  17. Suzanne

    Mr. Lyons, I don’t doubt the great strides being made and appreciate the link. I also cannot possibly quibble with questions being addressed amicably even if they are pesky. What I do object to is waste and a self-segregated group that continually brings up non-issues to muddy the waters (even Mr. Rivera objected to this!) I think conflict is a good thing when it is constructive and, if the contract was in their packets four days before the meeting, their questions were clearly not constructive but disruptive. I still say, stop the segregation of these members, integrate them with the rest of the Board and get on with the good stuff.

  18. PNolin

    Mike you have the patience of Job and that is probably the only way to get through these “inquiries”. Keep your bi-partisan majority and keep the Board moving forward.

  19. Ark

    Sorry Mark you did not report that the Mayor did anything. You reported, correctly, that “he said” he was going to do something. Talk is Cheap! What if anything has the Mayor done and why does he never show up at the Board of Ed?

    On the Mosque, It is Harry’s corporation Counsel who is pressing the Zoning Commission and Council to approve Harry’s settlement. Without Harry this so called settlement (double cross would be better term) would not be on anyone’s agenda.

    By the way keep up the great work. You are fast becoming the only news source in Norwalk

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Ark (updated 5:09 p.m.)

      While we don’t report every move the mayor makes — and, indeed, some things we learn off the record from many sources — we are told he has had conversations with some of the parties individually. Why he does not show up at the BoE is a question we will pursue. How often did his predecessor show up? I am told it was not often, and that he was a ghost when it came to the new super.

      If the mayor ignored the urging (not our word or his) of the U.S. Attorney and the judge and failed to pursue a mosque settlement, the taxpayers, apparently, could have wound up with a huge tax hike or loss of services in addition to the mosque without the reductions — or, at best, the huge bill and a scaled down mosque. Besides, there was a settlement pursued under the previous administration, but it was (rightly IMHO) rejected and counsel replaced with a leading expert, who is thrilled with this PROPOSED settlement, if not the law. Mr. Kimmel laid it out dispassionately, and if there was ever a bipartisan city official, it is him. (Longtime readers may recall that he was ripped several times on this site for being elected a Dem and joining the GOP caucus. We have come to understand his reasons and respect them.)

      And, from several sources, this settlement was negotiated by attorneys — mostly the outside firm — with the leadership of the Zoning Commission (Moccia appointees Joe Santo and Emily Wilson) representing that board. The mayor has not negotiated anything, as far as we know. It is a suit filed during the previous administration against that administrations’ appointed board based on zoning rules and regs put or left in place by that and earlier boards, with the original settlement talks begun during that administration’s tenure. So I am not sure how to call this Rilling’s settlement anymore than we could blame Nixon for the Vietnam War.

      Thanks for the compliment. We are trying. If the city’s residents want to support us, we will continue and we will grow.

  20. Bill

    Impeach Rivas and Mosby, neither represent the latino community. They only represent themselves and their union buddies #seeya

  21. Mike Lyons

    Suzanne, seating at the Board meetings is voluntary; except for the chair (who always sits in the center) all members chose their own seating locations, they are not assigned.

  22. Bill

    “professional” bus drivers should not be allowed to serve on BOE…I think we can all agree on that

  23. Susan Wallerstein

    Many school systems around the country, including Milford Public Schools http://www.milforded.org/page.cfm?p=2640, realize how important it is for boards of education and district leaders to have a shared understanding about governance and management. This requires training and discipline, but the alternative (what we’re experiencing in Norwalk) is just not acceptable. Everyone involved needs to realize that lack of trust and respect among the adults can and usually does negatively impact staff and student performance, not to mention a revolving door for school administrators. It’a not a matter of always agreeing or even liking each other, it’s about focusing on the work of governing (Board) and running (administration) a school system that meets the needs of all students.

  24. piberman

    Isn’t it time for NON to move on to more substantive matters than the “3” against the BOE. Especially as the lead article. How come NON never misses an opportunity to highlight the “3” while the mainstream newspaper – the Hour – generally ignores their activities ? Isn’t the BOE as an entity far more interesting than the “3” who if they had their way Norwalk would not have an outstanding Supt. on board ? Lets give the “3” a rest. They neither represent the BOE nor Norwalk nor any major voting bloc in the City.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @piBerman

      The only real stories are the ones that don’t make you uneasy. Who wrote the letter last week bringing this situation back to the fore? Highlighting the 3 women, casting them in the worst possible light while continuing the deification of the “proper” part of the board? We write things for our growing audience the “mainstream” media, which is shrinking, does not. Why? Because these stories need to be told so the voters know what is going on. You, Mr. Berman, want any voice that disagrees with you silenced

      Why is it that Bruce Kimmel, who has solid academic and professional credentials, is dismissed by you as a retired schoolteacher, when you are a retired school teacher and former advisor to a felonious disgraced ex-governor? Why do you accuse Mr. Kimmel of leaking public documents and discussing them when they were released by the legal teams in the Al Madany case, but you harangued this news site and the “mainstream” paper for failure to report (which we DID report) what was written by the teacher’s union head in a union publication paid for by union money intended for the union members? Wy did you (unsuccessfully) demand we publish a link to that newsletter every month? Why was your obsession with Bruce Mellion a constant story that needed MORE attention but the behavior of the current board is not? Why was the former board painted as dysfunctional for its disagreements and this one is celebrated as “best ever”? And, really, when Shirley Mosby — no matter what your opinion or our opinion may be — gets the second most votes for BOE in an AT-LARGE election, you dismiss her as having no constituency? She got 7,344 votes to Heidi Keyes’ 7,517. Artie Kassimis had 6,917 and Sherelle Harris 6,574.

      As a former mayoral candidate, your misinformation and disinformation does a disservice to Norwalk.

  25. Oldtimer

    Bill
    When you get elected, or appointed, to a position where you can establish standards for who can run for any municipal elected office, get back to us. Until then your comment about “professional school bus drivers” is inappropriate and will be interpreted by some as racial discrimination.
    If pressed, I’m sure you would make a logical explanation that BOE members should have certain minimal educational requirements seldom found in “professional school bus drivers”. Don’t assume, just because you think you are smarter than some others, that you know their education accomplishments or reasons for driving a school bus. Your comment is judged by what it sounds like, not by what you will someday, if pressed, claim you meant.

  26. The Family Guy

    I’m quite comfortable with the 3.

    Norwalk had a Victor Herbert who wanted to take the ball and run with it.

    If these girls can slow things down, I’m happy with that. 25K is a lot of money.

  27. Bill

    I meant that I don’t want someone who doesn’t appear to have graduated college deciding what is best for our kids. Sherelle Harris is black, but she is 1000 times better than these 3 unaccomplished do nothing’s. Don’t claim my comment is racist when it is really just elitist, and I am damn proud to be an elitist.

  28. Kathleen Montgomery

    @Piberman: The “3”, as you call them, are creating a serious group process problem. People who do not read what is provided them 4 days prior to a meeting and spend time trying to educate themselves DURING the meeting have no place on any board, especially the BOE. Even though Mike Lyons can rely on other board members who have responsibly read what is expected in order to make an informed decision, this nonsense (rambling speech masquerading as a question, facial expressions akin to someone in adolescence) from the “3” is slipshod and immature behavior.

    Why is this important to report on NON? Simple: to inform voters and MOST importantly because the children of Norwalk deserve people on the BOE who are both mature and keep themselves informed.

  29. Pibermanfmc

    Kathleen Montgomery:

    You raise good points. Experience suggests that elected and appointed officials unfamiliar with accepted governance procedures and preparations associated with serving on Boards are not likely to be productive contributing members. Some folks have trouble listening carefully to fellow Board member comments and understanding the importance of accepting graciously majority decisions. And with holding critical comments outside the Board meetings. And doing necessary homework.

    What can be done in Norwalk ? One possibility is for the Democratic Party leadership to bring the “3” up to speed through some informal instructional seminars. No one gains with continuing “nay saying” behavior and bizarre public claims both injurious to committed, hard working BOE members and the City. With a less capable BOE Chairman ( who has a high profile corporate responsibility) the “3” might well preclude the BOE not only from fully functioning but encourage Dr Rivera to seek a more enlightened community with which to serve. The BOE is the one place where all members need to serve to a high and respectful standard. That even includes the Mayor whose public criticism of an individual BOE member is as objectionable as the “3” claims of discrimination and calls for resignation. Best I can judge there’s no other community in CT that blithely tolerates such unacceptable behavior as Norwalk. Its deplorable and provides another reason to live elsewhere.

  30. sofaman

    “Bill
    August 25, 2014 at 8:36 pm
    I meant that I don’t want someone who doesn’t appear to have graduated college deciding what is best for our kids. Sherelle Harris is black, but she is 1000 times better than. . . ”

    Oh dear, you just can’t help some people. . .

  31. Yankee Clipper

    It would be interesting to see the educational qualifications/background of each BOE member … do they all have college degrees? any have graduate degrees? NON, can you let us know? Thanks

  32. Norewalk Lifer

    What does a college degree have to do with this? there are idiots with three or four degrees, barely breathing and collecting salaries in every faction of business,
    *
    the comments here are destructive, not constructive; again this board has an obligation to communicate, COMMUNICATE! if they can’t do that, they can do nothing.
    *
    Instead of disparaging these three BOE members, they are not “girls” they are not “minorities” they are not “black”, they are not “unqualified because they do not have a college degree”, they were sent to the board by their constitutents, Deal with it.
    *
    Instead of insulting them, ask the logical objective question; how does the board communicate “clearly” and “unemotionally” so that all members come prepared to these meetings?
    *
    Lyons would do a lot better if he tabled the meetings when they went down avenues like this.
    *
    In fact, I think BOTH SIDES are enjoying this, the Munchasen by Proxy syndrome on the BOE is becoming tiresome.

    TIRESOME

    Regards
    Norwalk Lifer

  33. M Murray’s

    Just let the 3 say what they have to say and then vote. It doesn’t away anyone. At worst you have a 5-4 decision supporting the Superintendent.

  34. Lifelong Teacher

    All materials are emailed out Fridays before board meetings to all members. All board members should come fully prepared.

  35. Casey Smith

    @ Pibermanfmc – “Experience suggests that elected and appointed officials unfamiliar with accepted governance procedures and preparations associated with serving on Boards are not likely to be productive contributing members.”
    .
    That might be true in some cases, but not this one. Migdalia Rivas has been on the Board since her sister, Judy (may she rest in peace) resigned due to family issues. Rosa Murray served for years on the Board, including being the Chair, before she lost an election and was out for a term. Now she’s back on the Board. Shirley Mosby served one term on the Board before being sidelined during the same election that Murray did. These three women know exactly what they are doing.

  36. Casey Smith

    @ Family Guy –
    .
    “25K is a lot of money.”
    .
    Yes, 25K is a lot of money, more than I make in one year. However, the District recently informed the City and the residents that they had a $2.9 million surplus. 25K simply pales beside that. At some point, as Dr. Rivera pointed out, one has to trust the administrators that have been hired to do their job. And the surplus shows that, yes, indeed, they are doing their job.
    .
    Just in case you missed the story about the surplus, here’s the link:
    .
    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/08/norwalk-boe-eyes-potential-2-9m-school-system-spruce-up/
    .

  37. Oldtimer

    Bill
    “Damn proud to be an elitist”
    Some of the smartest people I know never went to college and have done very well. I am not going to do the research for you, but, you should know a college degree, or several, is not a guarantee and the lack of one is no guarantee of failure. We agree a college degree is generally a big help getting started, especially in a business or economics job, and I encourage my grandchildren to work toward a degree, but I do not look down my elitist nose at people who never went to college.

  38. Lifer – “Instead of insulting them, ask the logical objective question; how does the board communicate “clearly” and “unemotionally” so that all members come prepared to these meetings? Lyons would do a lot better if he tabled the meetings when they went down avenues like this.”
    .
    All Board members get the same packets of background information, policies, contracts, etc., four days before each meeting. Those packets are about as “clear and unemotional” as you can get. Some members study the materials provided carefully, email questions to the superintendent in advance, and prepare for the meetings; others do not, and do their work at the Board meetings. I think the former is the preferred approach, but not all agree.
    .
    We sometimes do table matters to later meetings to address questions. No motion was made to table the bus contract (and the Chair has no power to do so unilaterally), and there were good reasons not to – the imminent start of school, the small cost, that the cost was covered by savings found in other parts of the transportation budget, that the City Law Department had approved the contract, that the bus company was qualified. Given all these factors, the Board majority was comfortable moving forward.

  39. Notaffiliated

    EEEEgad!!!

    ALL people in Norwalk should watch this. What’s the overall budget $170mm? I think the Superintendent should get battle pay for dealing with these folks.

  40. The Family Guy

    A $ 2.9 million dollar surplus!! Manna from heaven or the taxpayers of Norwalk ? Watch out for my foot Manny.

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