2021 CABE/CAPSS Convention
Friday, November 12, 2021
Mystic Marriott Hotel, Groton

Workshop Offerings 

The Future: Civility, Diversity and Student Voice

Friday, November 12, 2021


7:30  - 8:30 am            Registration Begins

Networking, Continental Breakfast, Exhibit Area Opens 


8:30  - 10:45 am          General Session

Welcome, Virtual Student Performance, CABE Executive Director Remarks, CAPSS Superintendent of the Year, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona


9:00 am – 4:00 pm       Talented Student Showcase and non-profit exhibitors


11:00 am – 12:00 pm   Workshop Session A

A1  Current Forces Impacting Policy: Recent Legislative and Judicial Action Affecting Local District Policy

Numerous policies have been influenced by recent state legislative action and judicial decisions. It is important and necessary to learn how local district policy has been impacted, especially by the action of the 2021 Connecticut General Assembly. There are numerous areas in which new or revised policy language is required or recommended. A foundational overview of the new legislation will be presented, focusing on policy implications and actions for boards of education to consider.

Presenter:          Vincent Mustaro, Sr. Staff Associate for Policy Service, CABE


A2  CAPSS Blueprint to Transform Connecticut’s Public Schools (D, EE, I)

The CAPSS Blueprint articulates a comprehensive set of 30 recommendations that CAPSS believes will move CT closer to assuring that every child receives the high-quality teaching and learning they are owed. Within this CAPSS Blueprint is an all-encompassing, equitable strategy for funding and improving education in CT, one which addresses the highest priority needs as expressed by Superintendents of Schools.

Presenter:          Fran Rabinowitz, Executive Director, CAPSS


A3  Understanding Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act (Especially in a Remote and Hybrid Meeting World) (C, I)

The FOIA contains open meetings and public records requirements (along with numerous exceptions) that unfortunately are often misconstrued.  In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak has led to modifications in the implementation of the FOIA, especially with respect to meetings.  This workshop should serve to provide further/updated guidance to board of education members and school administrators seeking to navigate the FOIA.  Special attention will be paid to the modified “remote” and “hybrid” meetings requirements. Supporting information: Understanding Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (Fifth Edition 2018), published and distributed by CABE and Pullman & Comley.

Presenters:        Mark Sommaruga, Attorney, Pullman & Comley, LLC; Thomas Hennick, Public Education Officer, State of Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission


A4  You Did What? Don’t Miss the Trading Deadline… An Innovative Interdistrict Collaboration (I)

Sports fans anxiously await for their team to make a big splash by acquiring a star player before the trading deadline. Though have you ever heard of a teacher trade? That did not stop Cheshire and Meriden from making it happen as part of an interdistrict collaboration that ensured success for their students and staff. This session covers how the process was successfully executed, unique strategies implemented for mutual benefit, and how public school districts can collaborate in the name of innovation.

Presenters:        Mark Benigni, Superintendent, Meriden; Jeffrey Solan, Superintendent, Cheshire; Michael Grove, Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Operations, Meriden; and Vincent Masciana, Chief Operating Officer, Cheshire


A5  Meeting with the State Board of Education

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet with members of the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education! We encourage you to share your views on issues of concern to you, your Board, and your community, and to ask about the State Board's priorities for 2021-2022. The format will be as informal as group size permits.  Topics covered will be determined by your questions.

Presenters:         Members of the Connecticut State Board of Education

                           Charlene Russell-Tucker, Commissioner, Connecticut State Department of Education


12:00 – 1:15 pm          Luncheon, Networking


1:15 – 1:45 pm            Dessert Break in Exhibit Hall


1:45 – 2:45 pm            Workshop Session B

B1  Roles and Responsibilities of Board Members and Superintendents

Connecticut's educational leaders recognize the power and potential to improve teaching and learning in our public schools through cooperative, purposeful, and professional working relationships between superintendents and boards of education. At a time when public education is under tremendous pressure from reform initiatives, tight budgets, and other community concerns, it is critical that this relationship be very strong. This workshop will communicate CABE's and CAPSS' views on the nature and expectations for Superintendent and Board working relationships.

Presenters:    Donald Harris, CABE President; Board Chair, Bloomfield Public Schools; Mark Benigni, CAPSS President; Superintendent, Meriden Public Schools; Robert Rader, Executive Director, CABE; Fran Rabinowitz, Executive Director, CAPSS                                         


B2  Leveling the Playing Field: Title IX and the Law of Transgender Students (D, EE)

What is a school district’s obligation to accommodate transgender students, both during the school day and in athletics? Recent federal court decisions, including by the United States Supreme Court, and subsequent reconfiguration of the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ guidance has expanded Title IX to cover students on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. With this change in perspective comes significant new obligations upon school boards in terms of ensuring equal treatment and equitable curricular and extracurricular opportunities, including the right to participate on single-gender sports teams, regardless of the student’s actual biological gender.

Presenter:          Michael McKeon, Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs, Connecticut State Department of Education


B3  Leveraging the Unprecedented Opportunity of ESSER/ARPA: Hartford's "Do Now, Build Toward" Strategy

Within the backdrop of financial constraints, Hartford Public Schools (HPS) faces continuous enrollment decline, the yet-to-be-determined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implications of the Sheff v. O’Neil desegregation case. Learn how HPS is leveraging the unprecedented opportunity of an influx of $144M in federal stimulus to achieve sustainable equity and excellence.

Presenters:        Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford; Ayesha Clarke, Board Chair, Hartford


B4  Legislative Issues

Getting prepared for the short 2022 legislative session beginning in February, we will discuss pandemic issues, school bus driver testing, and HVAC funding among other issues. We will inform you of the latest on various task forces- remote learning, student’s needs, special education, FAFSA and provide an update on a current Supreme court case.

Presenters:       Patrice McCarthy, Deputy Director and General Counsel, CABE; Sheila McKay, Sr. Staff Associate for Government Relations, CABE                                             


1:45 – 3:50 pm           Clinic Session C 

C1  35th Annual Meeting of the Nutmeg Board

Yet again, the Nutmeg Board meets and does all the wrong things. Designed to amuse and educate you, their actions will be analyzed from a legal perspective. This mock board meeting is based on the CABE Journal's "See You In Court" column.

Presenter:          Thomas Mooney, Attorney, Shipman & Goodwin

Cast to be determined


2:50 – 3:50 pm           Workshop Session D

D1  Trends

A timely topic of the presenter’s choosing.

Presenters:        Robert Rader, Executive Director, CABE; Martha Brackeen-Harris, Diversity Consultant, CABE


D2  Lessons from Lighthouse – The Five Questions Boards Need to Ask (EE)

Research by the Iowa Association of School Boards proves that boards of education can have a profound impact on the systemic improvement of teaching and learning. This workshop will focus on what we have learned about the role that effective boards play in such improvement and a process to help them do so.

Presenter:          Nicholas Caruso, Sr. Staff Associate for Field Services and Coordinator of Technology, CABE


D3  More Than Words: Student Voice in Action (C, D, EE)

The workshop will examine the More Than Words program, a student leadership initiative that provides students from Fitch, New London, and Ledyard High with a voice in dealing with a range of issues related to diversity, equity, and civility. The group has operated for the past 15 years and has been a huge asset to the schools in managing a number of challenges.

Presenters:        Michael Graner, Retired Superintendent, Groton; Susan Austin. Superintendent, Groton


D4  Collective Bargaining During a Pandemic

This presentation will address how public sector collective bargaining has been impacted by the pandemic. There are many new decisions management has needed to make during the pandemic such as whether to require masks and/or testing, work at home arrangements, workplace accommodations, dealing with religious and disability exemptions, and demands for hazard pay just to name a few. Management needs to know which of these decisions are subject to mandatory negotiations and which are not. The distinction between decision bargaining and impact bargaining will be reviewed. This presentation will also address new legislation which took effect on October 1, 2021, applicable to government employers regarding disclosure of employee information, union dues, and union access to facilities, systems, and employees.

Facilitator:         Conrad Vahlsing, Staff Attorney, CABE

Presenter:          Patrick McHale, Attorney, Kainen, Escalera & McHale


4:00 – 5:00 pm               Workshop Session E

E1  “To Post or Not to Post…” Understanding the Legal Pitfalls of Social Media Use by Board Members and Administrators

This session will explore the unique legal issues that apply to the social media activities and accounts of board members and administrators. A post, tweet, share, or like made via an official board of education social media account, or a private social media account promoted on a board website, can take on special legal significance potentially exposing the board and board member or administrator to liability. Even good faith efforts to block offensive posts or comments on a "non-political" social media account can trigger First Amendment concerns. State and federal courts from around the country are increasingly hearing cases addressing these issues. This session will give attendees a guided tour of the latest legal developments in this rapidly evolving area.

Presenter:         Zachary Schurin, Attorney, Pullman & Comley, LLC


E2  The Intersection of Cultural Competence and Social-Emotional Learning: Doing the Work and Making Your Policies Match (C, D, EE)

A hands-on workshop that will engage participants in exercises designed to demonstrate the work that needs to be done in your district to develop cultural competence and align policies with social-emotional learning standards. This will include direct participation in experiences designed to expose blind spots and increase awareness of implicit biases, as well as discussions of implications for discipline and equity policies that may be adopted by your district. Come prepared to engage with and learn from your fellow workshop participants under expert facilitation.

Presenters:        Michelle Laubin, Attorney, Berchem Moses PC; Typhanie Jackson, Executive Director of Pupil Services, New Haven; Johanna Samberg-Champion, Supervisor of Pupil Services, New Haven


E3  Success Through Inclusion: Maximizing In-District Special Education Program Potential (D, EE)

Research shows that when you outplace a student, they often don't make it back to their school. Additionally, the cost for one student in outplacement is up to six times more than an in-district special education student. This session will focus on the strategies and new program offerings that have helped Torrington School District reduce the number of outplacement students, coming in at a percentage lower than the State's average, and ultimately becoming one of the most sought-after school systems for special education students in the state.

Presenters:        Laura Klimaszewski, Executive Director of Student Services, Torrington; Amy Christmas, ALEP, Associate Principal, The S/L/A/M Collaborative; Amy Samuelson, AIA, Associate Principal, The S/L/A/M Collaborative


E4  Guiding Partnerships with Schools: Leveraging Technology to Drive Effective, Collaborative, and Equitable Family-School Partnerships (EE)

Prior to the pandemic, many families felt disconnected from their child's schools. During the shutdown, we witnessed first-hand how critical family engagement is for districts. The need for meaningful family engagement continues as districts work to keep all students in school through this year. In this session, participants will explore innovative and inclusive methods for partnering with families in assessing the quality of family engagement in their school using a digital suite of tools and resources. Participants will also be introduced to a strategic planning framework that guides schools in developing family engagement improvement plans that center on the perspective of families. Examples of positive impacts on attendance in schools successfully re-engaging with families will also be shared.

Presenters:        Heather Levitt Doucette, Manager of Instructional Projects, CREC Resource Group, CREC; Francisco Baires, Family Engagement Specialist, CREC


E5  Teacher Leader Fellowship Academy: Innovative and Imaginative Professional Development (C, D, EE, I)

The TLFA will support teacher leaders as enablers of innovation, creativity, and collaboration in their classrooms and beyond. Upon completion of this workshop, participants will understand the need for high-quality professional development and innovative practice in promoting teacher leadership in their own district. They will also be knowledgeable and informed about this tremendous opportunity to join a growing and exciting program that promotes innovation and equity by providing exposure to the top minds in the educational field.

Presenters:      Dr. Betty J. Sternberg, Director of the Teacher Leader Fellowship Academy, Sacred Heart University; Jennifer Norman, Teacher Leader Fellowship Member; Dr. Maureen Brummett, Superintendent, Newington


5:00 – 6:15 pm          Networking Reception



C – Civility • D - Diversity • EE – Equity and Excellence • I – Innovation


The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education - 81 Wolcott Hill Road - Wethersfield, CT 06109 - Phone: 860-571-7446 - Fax: 860-571-7452

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