When it comes to the Bridgeport’s schools and Paul Vallas, requiring the State of Connecticut and Bridgeport to follow the law will…
“Seriously disrupt the educational opportunities of Bridgeport’s schoolchildren…”
Not to mention it would be “unworkable and would maximize disruption.”
Sounds like the type of hyperbole and rhetoric that has been spewing from Paul Vallas’ and Vallas’ taxpayer-funded lawyers.
But in fact, those exact words came from none other than Andrew McDonald when he was working as Chief Legal Counsel for Governor Malloy.
McDonald played a pivotal role in the state’s illegal takeover of Bridgeport’s Schools. He was Malloy’s point person when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the Malloy administration had acted illegally and he was directly involved in secret discussions with legislative leaders to persuade the legislature to pass a law undermining the Supreme Court’s Bridgeport decision.
At the time, Andrew McDonald was even quoted in media outlets around the state and country, including the New York Times saying, “We are reviewing the implications of this decision and intend to discuss further legal and legislative options with state and local officials in the very near future.’
That effort culminated in inserting language intended to subvert the Supreme Court Decision. According to the Hartford Courant, on behalf of Governor Malloy, McDonald asked lawmakers to validate the state’s takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education AFTER the State Supreme Court ruled the takeover illegal. McDonald explained, “This legislation would eliminate any lingering questions and validate that action.”
The Hartford Courant added, “The Malloy administration’s proposed legal fix for the Bridgeport takeover amounts to two sentences inserted halfway through a 163-page package of education reforms. It targets the situation in Bridgeport particularly by validating any board take over after July 1, 2010, regardless of whether there was training.”
In what might be considered the most bizarre and politically-charged twist in the whole Bridgeport/Vallas debacle, thanks to Governor Malloy, Andrew McDonald is now a member of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
And at last check, as incredible as it sounds, Justice McDonald has not recused (removed) himself from the case despite the obvious conflict of interest.
Here is the background;
In the summer of 2011, Governor Malloy and his Administration moved to take over the Bridgeport school system. Their effort included doing away with Bridgeport’s democratically-elected board of education and replacing it with one appointed by the Malloy Administration. Upon the recommendation of Malloy’s new Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, the illegally-appointed Board of Education then hired Paul Vallas.
At the time of the takeover attempt, three of the elected (but now deposed) members of the Bridgeport Board of Education hired renowned attorney Norm Pattis to sue the State of Connecticut to force it to reverse its actions.
Pattis, with the help of retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, brought suit against the Malloy Administration.
In a historic judgment handed down in February 2012, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 6 to 1 that that the Malloy Administration had exceeded its authority and had acted illegally when it took over Bridgeport’s schools. The Connecticut Supreme Court ordered that Bridgeport’s schools be returned to the control of the Bridgeport Board of Education following a new election to select democratically-elected members for the reconstituted board.
Now eighteen months later, Norm Pattis and retired judge Carmen Lopez are returning to the Supreme Court in what has become the next chapter in the ongoing effort to force the State of Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport to follow the law and, in this case, remove Paul Vallas from the Bridgeport’s superintendent’s office since Vallas lacks the credentials necessary to serve as a superintendent of schools in the State of Connecticut.
As observers know, only a few weeks ago, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis, ruled that Paul Vallas lacks the credentials necessary to serve as a superintendent in the State of Connecticut and that Vallas could not have had his certification requirement waived since he failed to complete a school leadership program as required under the law. In a follow-up hearing, Judge Bellis went even further and ruled that there was no reason to allow Vallas to remain as head of Bridgeport’s schools during the appeal process and ordered him to leave the position immediately.
In response, despite not being a party to the case, the City of Bridgeport used taxpayer funds to add a team of outside attorneys to work with their own lawyers and filed an appeal on Vallas’ behalf.
The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on an expedited basis.
But as of Friday, even though Vallas’ attorneys had filed their initial brief to the Supreme Court, Andrew McDonald had still not announced that he was removing himself from the case despite his obvious conflict of interest.
Considering the extraordinary damage his involvement would have on the Supreme Court’s reputation and the rule of law in Connecticut we’ll hope and expect that Justice Andrew McDonald will announce he is recusing himself when the workweek begins.
For more information on McDonald’s previous involvement in the Bridgeport situation read the following: