Sen. Looney: “It’s Absolutely Within the Purview of the Legislature” to Act on the Bridgeport Board of Education Issue

Countering critics of potential action by the legislature, state Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney says the welfare and education of Bridgeport’s school children demand that the General Assembly act to fix a state law so it complies with the state Supreme Court ruling on the matter, retroactively if necessary. The court ruled that the state failed to follow the law in taking over Bridgeport’s chronically underachieving schools, dissolving the school board and appointing a new one.

Critics of Gov. Malloy say the state acted, the court found the action to be illegal, and that should be it. However, it is also completely acceptable and part of the process for the legislature to act to effectively undo with the court’s ruling, says Looney. “It’s absolutely within the purview of the legislature to act if there is a consensus to do so.” Looney noted that the majority opinion in the ruling hung its decision on the fact that there was no required retraining of board members before the takeover as required by law. “A pretty thin reason to hang a decision on,” Looney said.

Looney, a highly respected attorney in New Haven, says the court should have looked at the bigger picture. “I think Justice [Richard] Palmer made a lot of sense in his dissent,” he said. Palmer wrote, “Today, the majority deals the school children of Bridgeport a major setback, striking down the state board’s action without any legitimate basis for doing so,” Palmer wrote.

There are two ways to help the school children of Bridgeport. One would be for the legislature to act on a separate bill. Another would be to pass Gov. Malloy’s education reform plan that includes a fix.