Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Special Meeting July 20th, 2015

On the agenda:
- Citizen Participation begins at 0:46
- Closed Session - They voted to go into closed session at 5:00 and they come back into meeting at about 6:14
-  Agenda Adjustments begins at 6:31.  This is where they added the Jennifer McDonald contract to the agenda.
- Committee Reports begin at 7:57
- 2015-16 High School Student Handbooks Discussion/Approval begins at 12:17
-Bus Leases begins at 13:03
- Personnel Report begins at 14:35
-Discussion on the Resolution to approve 2014 settlement agreement with Jennifer McDonald begins at 23:46.  It starts with just a recap of the legal actions concerning this.  The boards statement concerning Marti Sageman and the resolution to approve the agreement begins at 27:40
- Board Member Comments begin at 32:16 ..  Board President Jay Bruns closing comments begin at 33:43

There was also a vote by this school board to approve the separation agreement from 2014 between the Bridgeport schools and former Elementary Principal Jennifer McDonald.  Where to even begin with this!    
Back in July of 2014 there was the infamous separation agreement signed by Former Superintendent Tom Hill on behalf of the Bridgeport School District and Elementary Principal Jennifer McDonald. 
So now we have a new school board with 2 new members and a new board president, voting last night 5 to 2 to approve that separation agreement that was not discussed or approved in 2014 by the previous board or voted on in 2014 in an open board meeting, in which it was required to be according to the laws pertaining to the OMA.  Following so far?  

Last night Board President Jay Bruns read a statement that appeared to have been prepared by the school districts lawyer Mr. Patterson.  At 27:40 in the video he gives the prepared school boards response concerning the separation agreement and the handling by Marti Sageman of the actions taken and the money spent.  This is not a legal judgement given by a court, only by the board members.  Wasn’t the school district’s lawyer Mr. Patterson also the one who drew up that separation agreement for Jennifer McDonald?  Based on the lawsuit filed against Marti Sageman on the circuit court website, the school district attorney is NOT Mr Patterson in fact it states the attorney is Philip Ellison. Therefore was it legal for the board to enter into closed session for the reason of exempt material when that pertains to client attorney privileges?   The way I understand the law this would make Mr. Patterson a witness to the case and a direct conflict of interest.  You can view the lawsuit papers filed here -- http://bridgeportmusings.blogspot.com/2015/07/lawsuit-on-behalf-of-bridgeport-school.html

Jay Bruns stated last night that the school board members were aware of the discussions between the school board’s representative and the representative for Jennifer McDonald.  How many school board members were actually told about this agreement and exactly when was it ever discussed by the board members?  If there were board members that were aware of it, then why did they not follow proper procedure and vote on it and approve it in a board meeting?  If the school board members were aware of this agreement and the payment made, why have they stayed silent since February when questions were first brought up about it?  Would the vote last night by the board to approve the action from a year ago be considered a admission of guilt that they did violate rules concerning it in 2014?  Or just a admission of incompetence?  Incompetence then, Incompetence now?

In the ABC 12 article and video by Terry Camp,  he states that “We spoke with school board members Jay Bruns and Pat Nelson and they confirm they knew nothing of the separation agreement between McDonald and the district.”   See video and story here -
It seems that more people than myself are confused about this.  Did Jay Bruns Know about it or did he Not Know about it?  Are we expected to settle for the best 2 out of 3 for answers concerning this?  It is obvious, and should be even to those that lack reading comprehension ability, that I have a lot of questions concerning everything about this whole matter.   

Now on to the closing comments made by Board President Jay Bruns.  

I have totally lost faith in the political system in D.C.  One of the things I find disgusting about the national politics is how when there is a vocal critic of or opponent to those in power, the opponent becomes a target of what appears to be a smear campaign.  They are attacked and lied about in every way possible in an attempt to destroy any credibility of the critic and thereby destroying the credibility of their criticism and opposition…….  When I heard Jay Bruns comments last night, I almost felt like I was watching this same kind of politics happening here in Bridgeport.  I have spent hours thinking over what he said and I still do not really know what to think of it.  So let’s take a look at what he said, piece by piece.  I would love some feedback from others on what you think of his comments.  You can leave a comment and post as “anonymous”.

First he talks about how they are moving forward etc…  I agree with that to a point. The schools and staff are moving forward; the school board not so much.  I think we have a few good board members that could help move the district in the right direction.  There are some good things happening in the district and I have talked with several people connected to the schools about how I would like to write about them here on my blog, to really highlight the positive things.  The problem is I just don’t have the time to do it.  I wanted to get all the info etc… to share.  There are too many important things in my life that are being put on hold, shoved to the side, just to be able to have the time to share what I do with the Township Board Meetings and the School Board Meetings.  There are so many good things happening here in Bridgeport that I would like to share on my blog, just can’t get it done.

Next he talks about every citizens Freedom of Speech and that I, Carla Citizen, have the right to video tape public meetings and share them on the internet.   Those are rights that all public officials need to remember that we as citizens have, and also remember that there are laws in place to guarantee and protect those rights. There are penalties for violating those laws.

He says that anyone has the right to come to the podium and say “whatever they want about anyone they want”, “Whether It is True Or Not”.  That remark blew me away!  Who was he talking about there?  The couple that spoke that evening about the 2015 Great Lake Rendezvous that will be held this August on the island at Davis Park here in Bridgeport?  Was he talking about the staff members that have spoken at the podium about some of the great things like the Robotic Program they have started here in Bridgeport?  Was he implying that people are actually speaking at the podium and intentionally lying? My first thought was that he was referring to the most vocal opponent of the school board and by far the most frequent visitor to the podium – John Rhines.  But he surely can’t mean John Rhines, because I believe that John Rhines can back up everything he has ever said with facts and documents.

Right after he talks about my right to video tape the meetings and share them online, he talks about “someone” advocating for the closure of the Bridgeport School District.  I got into a discussion with Mr. Bruns after the school board meeting about this.  The only remark that I can think of that he is referring to is one I made at the end of my blog post about the June 29th, 2015 Special School Board Meeting.  That was one of the meetings that made me feel like there was probably no hope for this current school board being competent enough to save this school district. 
My remark was “If I was sitting in Lansing and saw this meeting, along with all the other problems that this school board and district have had for years, I would shut this district down.  This meeting left me with little hope that this school board will ever be able to function in the necessary manner to bring this district out of the mess that it has allowed it to become, and especially to ever make it a thriving district.”  
I am NOT advocating for Lansing to shut the district down, I was in despair because I felt that is what Would Happen because of the incompetency of this school board.   If anyone goes and reads all my blog posts it should be obvious to them that I care deeply about the future of this district and the children that depend upon this district.  In my conversation with Mr. Bruns after the meeting, I said that I never advocated for closing the district down.  When Mr. Bruns tried to quote exactly what I had written, I said something along the line that he was paraphrasing, taking out of context what I had written, thus changing the meaning of what I wrote.  That quote needs to be taken in full context of the entire blog post.  If you read all my posts I think it should be obvious what I meant.  I keep asking myself if maybe he truly does not understand what I wrote or if he is intentionally twisting it to change the meaning?  I honestly don’t know what to think.

He also says “Everyone would be out of a job, because of what is being put on the computer and on YouTube, advocating closure of our schools”….  Wow, I wish my humble little blog really had that much power!  I do now average between 3,000 to 3,500 views over any 30 day period now.  After my post about the June 29th School Board Meeting, I did have over 600 views, from the U.S., in the first 48 hours after it went online.  That is not counting the international views it received.  If my blog posts had the power to close down the Bridgeport School District, just think of what I could do to change all the wrongs in the world with just my little blog!!
If the State of Michigan ever does close the Bridgeport School District, like they did with the former Buena Vista School District, it will not be because of anything that I write on my blog, it would be because of what they see happening here through the lens of my camera.  The buck stops with the School Board Members!  You can have all the best staff in the world working here in Bridgeport, but there is only so much they can do to save our school district when the school board is either so incompetent or possibly so corrupt.  If the district ever gets shut down it will be because of the actions or lack of actions by the School Board Members themselves and no one else!

In my conversation with Mr. Bruns after the meeting I also told him that what I want is for several of the board members to be gone so that the school district does not get shut down.  He said something like “You can’t remove the board members, only in an election”.  Mr. Bruns is not up for reelection until 2018; But there is always the Recall choice to remove a board member.  To remove them now would take a special election and I am not yet willing to go there because of the hardship it would cost the Township.  There is an election coming up in May 2016.  Jay Bruns can be recalled in that May election.  Maybe he will be recalled.  I will be seriously looking into that option after last night's meeting!


  1. I would first like to say that I have seen a lot of corrupt things being done by our school board president and former president along with the exception of 2. Those 2 being the very same ones that refused to go into that closed session last night. Hats off to them for refusing to participate in probably one of the most illegal things I have seen a school board do. Secondly I would like to take the time to address Jay Bruns closing statements. If the board truly had nothing to hide they wouldn't be so threatened by Carla video taping ANY meeting. It's quite obvious to me the only reason it is an issue now is because people are able to see with their own eyes the extreme disfunction and the incompetence that they have displayed. Finally if a recall were to be something that happens in the future for Jay Bruns then not only will you have my vote but I will gladly get involved with the process.

  2. Let me start first by clarifying a comment previously made to this blog. There was only 1 board member to not participate in the close session, 2 voted no in support of the motion. I do agree with the anonymous poster and state hats off to you for standing you ground to what you feel is right. I am a strong supporter of Carla on these blogs and applaud her for the dedication she shows to this community. It is very obvious that several board members still have an issue with being held accountable. I am not a fan of social media and have refrained in making comments to this blog in the past, however I will not tolerate anyone that questions my personal integrity. The comments made during board comments by the leader of this board were at least inappropriate if not a violation of the First Amendment. The only other comment I want to make to this is, Mr. Bruns is incorrect in his statement to the audience. There are technically 3 sides to every story, Yours, Theirs and the Truth. Fortunately for me I can support my side with the facts and the truth!

  3. I think that Mr. Bruns is trying to place blame on someone (as usual) for what is to come, or what he thinks is coming. He is planting the seed so that someone else receives blame for what he and some other board members have done. So, Mr. President, are you prepared to be in that seat? I am sure your shoulders are very heavy right now!
    He is being cornered and feels threatened, his blaming reactions prove it.
    Q; Does he know something we don't?
    Placing the blame on someone else begins to plant a seed (so to speak) he is preparing the community for what is to come, and so he doesn't get blamed is using Carla as a target. Trust me if it weren't Carla, then it would be John.

    As far as redoing a vote on the 2014 contract.
    Q; Did they do that now because they failed to do that then?
    Q; Are they legally in the right?
    Q; Why did the board ratify and vote on a contract that was already approved by former president Martha Sageman?
    Q; Who knew about the separation agreement and who didn't? Show of hands whom did?
    Jay knew what you meant in your comments and posts, he is taking it out of context because he is an ass. Do not back down Carla!!! You have so many people backing you. You really have no idea.
    As far as a recall... Naw let them bastards sit up there and take responsibility for their actions. It would cost us too much money to recall, and then to get someone else up there in the middle of this would not be fair. I say let them all sit there and take responsibility for their actions. In the end if they are still sitting there they are really and truly the only ones to accountable.
    Q; Would putting a fresh board member up there now, (at the cost of the district) be wise?
    As citizens we can hold them accountable. How can we continue to do so?
    • Keep attending board meetings, keep posting video online. It is obvious that Jay is stirring because of the videos and presence at the meetings. Keep him on his toes.
    • Continue to ask the questions when there is a discrepancy.
    • John, keep doing your footwork, it is opening eyes across the county and state.
    • Parents need to get more involved and attend the meetings or watch them via Carla on Youtube.
    • Stick together!
    Q; Where is the proactive approach our children deserve?
    Jay mentioned that there were alot of great things coming for the 2015/2016 school year. Great! WHAT ARE THEY? Instead of calling out Carla and playing blame game and focusing on the negative, he should have taken the time to inform the community of the GREAT things to come. Informed us of the upcoming school year and what actions they have taken to make the teachers/students/parents prepared to start the new year. It sounds like the proactive approach is being used, but how? Responsible government should focus on the positive, and not play blame game. At the next meeting I would like to see each board member have something positive to say about what is to come for the 2015/2016 school year, including the Superintendent.
    Jay is using a form of intimidation and bullying. Do not let him. It is a tactic that men with small penises use to overcome. LOL I had to say it!!!!
    There are always to sides to every story, unfortunately in government when there is? The consequences are embarrassing. Everything, every decision that board makes or breaks should be public knowledge. Most of it seems to be hidden and John I commend you for doing the foot work and digging.
    I do wonder though John, what is your goal? What do you wish to gain by this lawsuit? I am just wondering because I have heard every story imaginable and I would like to hear it from you directly.
    In the end I think that we all need to stick together as a community. Keep being nosey at these meetings, keep digging up the dirt. Carla you have our support, and I personally know there are parents in the community that are itching to speak up.

  4. I would like to Thank Everyone for your comments! I would only ask that you keep your comments on point to the important issues and lets avoid any attacks of a personal nature.
    As for John Rhines reasons for the lawsuit, I will let him speak for himself on that matter, but I will say that I would not support him if I didn't feel he was in the right with it and doing it for the right reasons.
    As for the possibility of a recall, you bring up some valid points. The matter of a recall is something I have been thinking over for a while concerning several board members. The cost for a special election to be held this year would cost Bridgeport Township over $10,000 I believe which is why I won't go that route. Also past recalls have caused some damage in our township and the thought of it ever happening again makes me cringe. To add recall language onto the May 2016 ballot would cost some extra money, but not as much as a special election would.
    Board President Jay Bruns comments at the end of the meeting I felt were totally out of line.
    The vote taken by the board at Monday's meeting concerning the approval of the separation agreement for Jennifer McDonald makes me believe that this board is not going to change in the way they have continued to function for too many years. Yes we could leave these board members there and try to hold them accountable for their actions, but how much damage will they continue to cause while still there on the board?
    At some point all Bridgeport residents need to decide if the benefits of a recall will outweigh any costs, whether they be financial or just with having new board members step in.

    1. Oh I never meant to personally attack John, that was not my intentions at all. I do apologize if it seemed that way

    2. Not John, I meant the remark about someone's manhood. Also Thank You for your support! I love hearing more thoughts on the subject. I want to make people think, get involved.

  5. I believe the damage that was already inflicted has to have consequences before we establish new board members. If not consequences, then accountability and public notice that they did wrong. They know we are watching so any further damage could be none to minimal.
    With the state watching, a takeover is inevitable, and they know it. If John keeps up his pace it will benefit our entire community! I am hoping that his diligence will force them to think before they act and know that John will call them out if not!
    There are many of us, including myself, whom still have kids in this district. John is making a difference for not only them, but for the entire districts future!