‘Retroactively Validating’ the state’s takeover of Bridgeport school board

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is asking lawmakers now to validate the state’s takeover eight months ago of the Bridgeport Board of Education.

“This legislation would eliminate any lingering questions and validate that action,” said Andrew McDonald, the administration’s lead counsel.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments in October on whether the State Board of Education overstepped its authority last July by throwing the local board out of office. But Mayor Bill Finch told the Education Committee earlier this week the Supreme Court will be ruling on a technicality.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs call that technicality the law.

“What’s a little fascism among friends as long as it serves the children?” Norm Pattis told the Supreme Court justices in October.

Current law requires elected board members receive training to “improve their operational efficiency and effectiveness.” Bridgeport members never received such training.

Malloy’s proposal would throw out this requirement, and as legislative researchers noted would, “retroactively validat[e] reconstitution despite requirements to provide training to board members.”

McDonald said he cannot predict whether this will be enough for the Supreme Court to ultimately rule that the state did not overstep, but such a ruling would be disastrous.

“Turning back the clock is unworkable and would maximize disruption to the district,” he said.

The state-appointed board and acting superintendent have begun to make headway on closing a multi-million dollar budget deficit and the terms of several of the old elected board members have since expired.

This proposed change was tucked into Malloy’s 163-page education bill, which also asks the legislature to give the state’s education commissioner the ability to intervene in up to 30 of the state’s lowest-performing schools.