NORWALK, Conn. – There is a problem with Norwalk Public Schools, according to John Mosby – a lack of black and Hispanic teachers.
Mosby’s latest address to the Board of Education on Tuesday included the news that he has filed a citizen’s complaint against BOE Chairman Mike Lyons, putting Vice Chairman Artie Kassimis on a bit of a hot seat as he defended the lack of action taken on the topic. Mosby, a frequent commenter and critic at BOE meetings, also again criticized the lack of black teachers and spending at Briggs High School. Mosby was even more specific, complaining that Briggs had been a black school that is being “taken over” by Latinos. Briggs has not gotten money that was promised to it, he said.
Complicating matters is the fact that Mosby is the father of a Board of Education member, Shirley Mosby.
“We are the majority in this school system. You trying to put the Hispanics against the black, right there in Briggs High School. … That was a black school once. Now you loading it with all Hispanics. You setting up the blacks. I’m not going to let it happen,” he said. “You get mad all you want. I’m going to get you straightened out. I told Dr. Rivera to start to hire some black teachers – only secretaries, you’re hiring secretaries. That’s what the problem is.”
Plus, “You never spent one dime on Briggs. That’s what I’m talking about,” he said.
Mosby said he had sent a letter to the board through Superintendent Manny Rivera. “Under the bylaws I’ve got a right to speak about it,” he said. “What happened to my letter?”
Rivera said the board executive committee had gotten a letter, and referred answering Mosby’s statement to them.
Kassimis said he had been in Louisiana and unable to deal with it.
Board member Migdalia Rivas wanted to know what had happened to the letter. Kassimis explained that the letter had been a citizens complaint against Lyons. Lyons had therefore recused himself, he said. Nothing had been done because Kassimis wanted to sit down and look at the policy with other executive board members and he was out of town, he said.
“I have never been involved in a civilian complaint,” Kassimis said. “The policy was not available to me. So I asked … can I at least come back and let’s have a quick face to face and find out what the policy says?”
Shirley Mosby said that it would have been nice if an email had been sent to all board members on the topic.
“That makes me wonder what else is out there,” she said.
Kassimis repeated that he had wanted to learn what the policy was. The original email had gone to Rivera, not the full board, he said.
Lyons provided the complaint to NancyOnNorwalk. The complaint is inspired by a NancyOnNorwalk story about the recommended dismissal of a labor complaint against the BOE. It is against Lyons and BOE attorney William Connon.
The story quotes John Mosby as saying his son, Alvin Mosby, would file an appeal of the complaint.
John Mosby’s complaint against Lyons and Connon asserts that John Mosby did not say anything at the March 4 BOE meeting about the recommended dismissal of the labor complaint.
He did not. His comment about Alvin Mosby filing an appeal was made to this reporter in the City Hall parking lot.
Mosby requested that the matter be put on the March 18 agenda. It was not.
Mosby said Tuesday that his complaint about the lack of money going to Briggs High School concerned plans to rebuild the school. He had a document that showed that nearly $3 million had been planned for construction in 2009. That construction did not happen.
Mosby is known to comment on the proceedings at public meetings, enthusiastically agreeing with board members as they speak.
On Tuesday night he continually supported Rivas as she talked about her problems with the school system.
“That’s right. You tell them how we feel,” he said, as Rivas alleged she had been discriminated against her, that the school system had failed her children.
Another legal complaint filed by Mosby has reached an apparent dead end.
The Freedom of Information Commission on March 14 recommended that a complaint filed by Mosby be dismissed. That recommendation was received by the city on March 19. A hearing is planned for April 9.
Mosby’s complaint alleges that, on April 2, 2013, the board held an executive session to discuss a document that was not made available to the public. It alleges that, on May 7, 2013, the board held an executive session to discuss contract negotiations and then came out of the executive session to vote on the contract, without ever showing it to the public.
The commission’s proposed final decision states that Mosby did not file his complaint about the earlier meeting in time to have it considered. It was not filed within 30 days, the document states.
Regarding the second half of the complaint, the board held a special meeting on April 23 in which it reported on the status of the two contracts in question, the proposed final commission decision states. The board announced at that meeting that negotiations were likely to conclude by May 7.
The board was not required to have an executive session, the decision states. “It should have simply deemed such discussion a non-meeting, not placed the discussion concerning this item on the agenda, and conducted the discussion accordingly,” the decision states.
There was no hard copy of the contract available for the May 7 meeting, the decision states.
“The complainant contends that the Board of Education should not be permitted to work off of the previous year’s contracts and vote to approve the marked-up documents as the succeeding year’s contracts,” the decision states. “Rather, the complainant contends that the board should be required to bring the finalized versions of the new contracts to the public meeting, hand them out to the public, and permit the public to comment on the new provisions before any voting takes place.
“The commission notes that, while meetings of a public agency are required to be open to the public, the FOI act does not require a public agency to permit members of the public to speak or comment at its meetings. Furthermore, the FOI act does not obligate a public agency to create records; it only obligates it to provide access to those records which it in fact has created or retained.”