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Bridgeport Board of Ed faces scrutiny over rogue hiring and criminal investigations

BRIDGEPORT-- Two investigations and a rogue hiring had people at the Bridgeport Board of Education meeting up in arms.

"We don’t have a Board of Education we have a criminal cabal that is making critical decisions that are impacting the academic and social success of over 20,000 Bridgeport public school students," said Bridgeport City Councilwoman Maria Pereira.

Emotions spilled over at times during the highly attended meeting. It was the first with newly appointed Superintendent Michael Testani. The former acting superintendent was hired to take over the role officially last Monday after only five months on the job.

"You are not transparent. This critical decision was made behind closed doors with no notice and no input from the community whatsoever," said Jason Ayala.

Some in attendance called Testani unqualified for the position and were upset no other candidates were considered. Wanda Simmons brought up his signed acting superintendent contract which stated he would agree not to apply for the full-time vacancy.

"Should he apply this agreement should be significant grounds not to accept his application," said Wanda Simmons while quoting the contract signed by Testoni.

There were many who stood by Testani’s three-year over $200,000 contract.

"He has demonstrated that he can make swift and tough decisions while promoting an atmosphere that is a positive climate and culture focused on student learning and safety," said a Bridgeport Public school teacher.

"I know everyone here is saying he might not look like our children but I’m going to tell you something right now. His heart and his intentions are pure," said a Central high school coach.

Testani is now overseen by a board of education with two of its members under investigation.

Member Christopher Taylor and his wife Stacy appeared in Derby Superior court December 30. They were both facing charges of impersonation of a police officer and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

"Stacy had gone into the apartment and pretended to be a police officer and tried to get the victim to come out," said Seymour Police Chief Roberto Rinaldi.

The victim was Chris’s 21-year-old step-son. The affidavit states that Chris and Stacy Taylor were trying to get her son away from his girlfriend, who the Taylor’s accused of illegal drug activity. Although Seymour police say they didn't find anything to support the claims.

Fellow board of education member Jessica Martinez was a no-show at the meeting. Her ex-boyfriend’s family claims she stabbed him Saturday.

Bridgeport Police told FOX61 that they are "looking into allegations that Martinez is involved. The incident is still under investigation at this time.”

Martinez recently had domestic violence charges dismissed after she completed a 20-week domestic violence education program.

Taylor’s arrest made him the third board of education member to be arrested in 2019.

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