AP NEWS

Perera is back in the race for Bridgeport schools chief

March 8, 2017 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — Angella Katrise Perera is back in the running for city schools superintendent.

A day after the school board was informed the finalist had withdrawn her application, she asked to be reconsidered.

The school board, meeting behind closed doors on Tuesday, agreed.

“The withdrawal was based on some pretty harassing and vile twitter messages she had received. purportedly from Bridgeport residents about her application,” Board Chairman Joe Larcheveque said after the session.

He did not say what they were or if they had all been shared with him.

On Monday, during a telephone interview with Hearst Connecticut Media, Perera said that one of the reasons she had backed out was that she had received inappropriate messages that “didn’t leave a good taste in her mouth.”

Larcheveque said that after having a day to think about it, she asked to be reconsidered.

“We thought it only fair,” Larcheveque said, not only to Perera but the board’s other finalist, Interim Schools Superintendent Aresta Johnson, as well.

“She realized she had something to offer the district,” Larcheveque said.

A candidate forum scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed until Tuesday, March 14, at 6 p.m., where both Perera and Johnson are expected to make presentations and answer questions. The forum is set for Johnson School on Lexington Avenue.

Perera can’t make the Wednesday forum because she will be presenting in Bellevue, Nevada on Thursday where she is also a top superintendent candidate.

Board member John Weldon said he can’t fault her for applying for more than one job.

“She has choices and we have choices,” said Weldon.

“When I came to Connecticut I think I applied for 16 or 17 jobs,” board member Ben Walker added. “I think it is fair to keep an open mind.”

Walker called Perera, who was named 2015 Superintendent of the Year by a national association, qualified.

“We owe it to the city of Bridgeport to look and see what the board sees as the best candidates for the job.

Perera and Johnson rose to the top of what started out as 58 candidates. Seven finalists were presented to the board, who whittled the list down to three and then two.

Not all board members were in favor of giving Perera a second chance.

“If a public official cant handle tweets, it is best not to come into the district,” Board member Maria Pereira said.

Pereira also criticized the candidate for referencing Bellevue instead of Bridgeport in her application.

“She is a cut and paster,” Pereira said.

Larcheveque said the alternative for the board would have been to go forward with one candidate or restart the process.

“This is budget season,” Larcheveque said. “We need a leader that is going to get this done for us. I am glad she was able to rebound.”.