By Dr. Lesly Valbrun
Greater Bridgeport NAACP
The Greater Bridgeport NAACP, in the cause of justice and equity on behalf of the citizens of Stratford, asks: “What is behind the actions of the Stratford Board of Education relative to Dr. Uyi Osunde?” They authorized a suspension of the Superintendent of Schools two months ago. The BOE hired him several years ago in a competitive search as a man of color, with multiple degrees including an educational doctorate from UConn, to be the instructional curriculum leader, budget formulator, and overall manager for 1200 Town employees.
Dr. Osunde was charged with a misdemeanor breach of peace from a domestic relations complaint in New Haven on November 25, 2023, at his residence. Information from a Police report became known publicly after a December 10, 2023, meeting of the Stratford Board of Education. They authorized his suspension pending court action. The case was dismissed in Superior Court by February 5, 2024, but the BOE continues the suspension.
What is their purpose? How will the citizens of Stratford be served by BOE actions, much less, learn the current hidden reasons for the misuse of their powers? Political leadership in Stratford has personal historical familiarity with the manner in which media narratives and deferred righteous action can combine to cause scandal, racial discrimination, and partisan “power” advantage.
This is Super Bowl Weekend 2024 and millions of eyes will see the clash between the Forty Niners and the Chiefs with interest and understanding. But what is the “inaudible play” that the BOE is executing by continued “benching” of the Superintendent?
Dr. Osunde has been a “star” experienced team leader for education in Stratford. His initial hiring and regular evaluations, including a review six months ago bear this out. At this time for an Annual Budget vote, why has he been disempowered when the education budget is to be formulated, presented, and defended by the Superintendent?
What can a review of tapes or any additional investigations reveal to the BOE beyond what a Connecticut Court saw and summarily dismissed as not actionable? “Leading as team manager“ and “on the field” where the game is played daily is the place for Dr. Osunde, isn’t it? Is this an example of a “white supremacist intentional foul”?
Assuming the BOE has the power and the authority of suspension, though they sit “off the field,” what is their assessment of any issue or concern that potentially causes additional expense or cost to taxpayers, a loss of sustainable educational quality in the Superintendent Office, and confusion everywhere?
To use a sports summary when the Court dismissal became fact, the Judge “on the field” concluded: “No Harm, No Foul” Perhaps the spotlight will transfer to those “off the field of play” who use their power without transparency, who hold equity to all in disregard, and who continue to discriminate unfairly.
Where is the truth of this matter? Will the diverse public of the Town of Stratford call to be included in the explanation of the “strategic” planning by the Board of Education as well as others who may have a partisan rather than public interest?
Who will speak on behalf of an equitable role as taxpayers, voters, and public activists who support democratic practices today? Action changes things!!