AP NEWS

Another empty seat on Bridgeport BOE

March 26, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — No sooner did the city school board replace a vacancy on the nine-member panel than another one occurred.

Without explanation, Board Member Ben Walker submitted a letter of resignation Monday afternoon to the City Clerk’s Office. The one sentence resignation said he unequivocally resigned from the often contentious board.

Walker could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I accept it on its face,” Board Chairman John Weldon said. “He didn’t provide a reason.”

The resignation starts another 30 window for the school board to fill the seat before the honor goes to the mayor.

Weldon said his first step will be to consult with board attorneys since before he resigned, Walker changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Libertarian in February.

On March 11, the board replaced a seat left vacant by State Sen. Dennis Bradley with Joseph Lombard, an unaffiliated voter. To keep the required three member minority representation balance on the board, the replacement had to be something other than a Democrat because another board member, Joseph Sokolovic, became a Democrat last fall.

Walker, a retired Greenwich music teacher, won a seat as a petition Democrat on a slate that included Maria Pereira and Bradley in 2015. He has often sided with Pereira on issues and against the board majority. When Weldon called a special meeting to completely rewrite school board bylaws, Walker called it a coup.

“The single reason that I ran for the Board of Education was to help the children in the public schools in Bridgeport,” Walker said at the time, suggesting the majority couldn’t seem to get their way within the Democratic process.

“The Super Majority is so afraid of Ms. Pereira’s words that they willingly gave up their personal right to vote in exchange for new bylaws that essentially declare Mr. Weldon “Emperor of the BOE.”

Walker was chair of the board’s Teaching and Learning Committee that was responsible for pushing through several initiatives, including the requirement that students take a course in African American Studies, Latino Studies or Race Relations. The state legislature is considering a similar requirement this session.

lclambeck@ctpost.com; twitter/lclambeck