A Wednesday hearing in the New Haven Board of Alders’ lawsuit against the city’s Board of Education was rescheduled for March 16 after a judge granted Attorney Norman Pattis — who is representing the BOA — his second continuance since February.
According to documents filed with the Connecticut Superior Court, Pattis requested a motion for continuance Tuesday, citing “ongoing settlement discussions.” Judge Matthew Frechette granted the motion later that day. Pattis previously filed for continuance in the case in mid-February, when he was granted a motion that pushed the scheduled court hearing from Feb. 16 to Wednesday. As negotiations between the BOA and BOE continue, it remains unclear whether the two bodies will reach a settlement.
The alders allege that BOE member Daisy Gonzalez and the BOE defied the city’s charter, which calls for a BOE comprised of seven voting members and two nonvoting student members. The November election of new BOE members Edward Joyner and Darnell Goldson, when only one then-member’s term was set to expire, resulted in an eight-member BOE, leading to the current controversy and pending litigation.
Goldson, who was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday, said he knows that negotiations between the BOA and BOE have been going well. He said he is “99 percent” sure the BOE will be voting on a resolution at its next meeting, scheduled for Mar. 14 — two days before the new court date. Stephen Sedor, the Bridgeport-based attorney who is representing the BOE, declined to comment on the continuance. He did, however, express hope that a settlement would be reached between the BOA and BOE. Kari Olson, the Hartford attorney representing Gonzalez, could not be reached for comment.
City Spokesman Laurence Grotheer said he was privy to some details of the possible settlement but declined to give further comment.
Goldson was appointed co-chair of the BOE Finance and Operations Committee at a Feb. 22 meeting, a seat previously held by Gonzalez. Throughout the controversy, Goldson has maintained the stance that the BOE must comply with the city charter.
“There should only be seven voting members on the BOE,” Goldson said.
He noted that the charter — which calls for two elected members and the mayor — statutorily protects him, Joyner and Harp from removal from the board.
To resolve the charter violation, the alders voted on Dec. 21 to remove Gonzalez — widely regarded as the BOE spokeswoman for New Haven Public Schools parents — because she was the most recent mayoral appointee to the board. She was confirmed by the alders on Oct. 20, 2014 and her membership was initially set to expire Dec. 31, 2018.
Pattis filed the civil suit against the BOE on Jan. 26 in response to Gonzalez’s continued membership on the board, which violated the alders’ December ordinance to terminate Gonzalez’s membership on Dec. 31. Pattis also filed a separate injunction against Gonzalez for failing to cooperate with the ordinance.
The BOE voted in December to allot up to $20,000 to cover legal fees incurred from the lawsuit.