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.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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