During the “Great Education Reform” debate last year, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education asked the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt new statutory language that would allow him to waive the certification requirements for a person to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut.
It was an odd move, to say the least, considering the bill was supposed to be about improving education in Connecticut and enhancing the qualifications of teachers in our public schools.
On the one hand, Malloy and Pryor were proposing spending tens of millions of dollars on new teacher evaluation systems and efforts to enhance the teaching profession and, on the other hand, they were proposing to change the law so that a superintendent of schools didn’t even need to be certified to do the job. (As an aside, Pryor and Malloy did not propose exempting any other school administrators and teachers from needing to be certified, just superintendents…the people running the system and making the big salaries.)
Although Connecticut has had a successful superintendent certification system for decades, and even had a provision to waive certification in particular situations, it was widely understood that the changes Commissioner Pryor was seeking were designed to allow Pryor to waive the certification requirements for his friend, Paul Vallas, the $234,000, Acting Superintendent of Schools in Bridgeport.
Maybe it was a matter of professional courtesy or maybe legislators didn’t fully appreciate the underlying issues, but the General Assembly adopted the new language and it was signed into law by Governor Malloy.
As a result of that new law, any person can now work as a superintendent of schools, even if they haven’t been certified, as long as they successfully complete “a probationary period as an acting superintendent,” “successfully complete a school leadership program, approved by the State Board of Education,” and as long as the commissioner deems them to “be exceptionally qualified for the position of Superintendent.”
As readers know, last Monday night the Bridgeport Board of Education voted 5 to 4 to give Paul Vallas a three-year contract to serve as Bridgeport’s Permanent Superintendent of Schools.
The problem is, they completely failed to follow the language of the new law.
Vallas has not completed his probationary period as an acting superintendent and he hasn’t even enrolled, let along successfully completed a school leadership program.
So now there is a problem.
The language in the law came from Commissioner Pryor.
The Legislature passed the language Commissioner Pryor wanted.
The Governor signed the bill into law.
The Commissioner’s own Chief of Staff even attended the Bridgeport Board of Education meeting to keep a close eye on things.
And then the Bridgeport Board adopted a contract that doesn’t meet the law.
But here we are, almost three days has gone by, and from Commissioner Pryor….silence.
Pryor knows that the contract with Vallas is void.
He is the one who wrote the language the Bridgeport Board of Education failed to follow.
The Commissioner needs to end his silence and make it clear to the Bridgeport Board of Education that if they really want Paul Vallas to be their superintendent of schools, and apparently five of the nine members of the that Board really want to do that, then they need to hold another meeting and adopt a contract that doesn’t violate the law.
Commissioner Pryor…You need to explain to them that as annoying as it may be, people need to follow the law.