Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009

Exclusive: MPS President Bonds Resigns from Mayor's Advisory Council

By Lisa Kaiser
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MPS Board President Michael Bonds has submitted a letter to Mayor Tom Barrett announcing his decision to resign from Barrett’s appointed MPS Innovation and Improvement Advisory Committee “immediately.”

I just got off the phone with Pat Curley, Barrett’s top aide, who hadn’t heard that Bonds had turned in his resignation letter.

“We’re very, very disappointed if that is the case,” Curley said.

Bond’s letter contains some bombshells:

“I do not feel I can continue to serve on your public committee, while you and the Governor and other key actors are having private conversations about taking over the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) or changing its governance structure of which I am the president.

“When I met with you in your office on Monday, August 13, 2009, you personally informed me of the high level private conversations you have had with the Governor and other high level state and federal elected officials about taking over MPS or changing its governance structure…. As I stated to you when you first asked me to serve on the committee, I would only serve on your public committee if its intention is to really improve MPS and not to take it over. Based on the private meetings you have informed me that are occurring, it appears that there is a serious desire to see MPS being taken over by the very people who formed this public committee to improve the district. As MPS Board President, I cannot be a part of a public committee to improve MPS, while I know that private meetings are being held to take it over or change its governance structure from an elected body to a non-elected body.”

[Emphasis Bonds’'. I also noticed there's a discrepancy on the date of the meeting with Barrett. It may have been Monday, August 10, not August 13. I'm trying to confirm it now.]

Bonds then goes on to defend the current MPS board, which has made some difficult financial decisions and is increasing its accountability measures:

“The current board did not create MPS’ current problems.”

Bonds copied the rest of the MPS board, as well as MPS Superintendent Andrekopoulos, on the letter.

And now you know.

Barrett’s aide Curley and I had a decent chat about the mayor exploring taking over the school district, even though the mayor has told me that the committee was not a first step toward taking over the district.

Curley said that the advisory committee and a mayoral takeover of MPS are two different things, and that changes in governance have always been part of the conversations about improving MPS’ performance.

He admitted that there have been private conversations with state leaders and unnamed legislators about changing state law. “But there is nothing drafted right now,” he said.

So which state legislator is working with Barrett to change state law and replace the elected MPS board with an appointed board?

I’ll provide more from my chat with Curley in another post.

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