Bridgeport school board on hunt for new board member, again
BRIDGEPORT — A day after losing its vice chair, the city school board has filled his leadership role and set the wheels in motion to fill the vacancy.
Bobbi Brown, 31, who is just completing her first year on the panel, was picked to replace Hernan Illingworth as vice chairman on a 5-3 vote of the board.
The other three ballots were cast for Jessica Martinez.
Illingworth resigned by email on Tuesday. He has moved out of the city, other board members said.
The board agreed to put out the call for a ninth board member, a chore it has had to complete several times over the past few years.
The replacement must live in the city and be a registered Democrat, as was Illingworth.
Before starting the replacement process, Board Chairman John Weldon asked all the remaining board members on a virtual meeting held Wednesday to verify their party.
In the recent past, board replacements have been complicated by board members who have switched their party affiliations after being elected. Statutes call for the board to maintain a minority party representation.
As it stands, the board is at a 4-4 split between Democrats and Republicans.
Collectively, the group agreed to solicit applications for the opening between Oct. 30 and Nov. 18, 2020.
Resumes and cover letters should be sent to the superintendent’s office which will set up interviews with the rest of the board on Nov. 23. The board is expected to pick from among the candidates at a board meeting later that evening. Swearing in will be then and there.
Because the spot is open to Democrats, Board Member Joseph Sokolovic said he expects to receive much more interest than when the vacancy had to go to one of the city’s minority parties.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 6-1 margin in the city.
If they can’t decide by Thanksgiving, the mayor gets to pick the replacement.
The new board member will fill out the remainder of Illingworth’s term which was set to expire on Dec. 1, 2021.
Brown, a city native who was serving as the board secretary, welcomed the chance to change titles and become vice chair, she said.
“I am grateful for another opportunity to continue to learn and serve on the Bridgeport Board of Education,” she said.
A graduate of Harding High School and Oral Roberts University, Brown came on the board pledging to be someone willing to galvanize young people.
To “give them a chance to make their own stand,” Brown said at athe time.
Brown has help organize a group called #100GirlsLeading to mentor young females and over the summer lead youth in Black Lives Matter marches.
She celebrated the city’s removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from Seaside Park on social media.
That action caught the wrath of City Council Member Maria Pereira, a former school board member who was called out on numerous occasions for allegedly acting inappropriately when she was on the city school board.
Pereira charged Brown was conducting herself in a “ghetto” manner. Others responded by calling for Pereira’s censure on the council. Recently, Pereira was kicked off council committee assignments.
Brown has not responded to the fray. She asks questions during meetings, which are mostly held via Zoom at the moment, and does not always vote with the majority.
Most recently, she has been working to get out the youth vote in advance of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Another special meeting of the board to fill the role of secretary will be held on Friday.