Even in defeat, Vallas can’t face reality or explain the truth…

Late today, Paul Vallas sent an email message out to Bridgeport teachers, administrators and staff informing them of Friday’s court decision removing him as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools.  The court removed Vallas because he failed to meet the legal qualifications needed to hold that position.

Not surprisingly, in Vallas’ latest message, he sticks to his rhetoric about his dedication to ensuring “a quality education for every child” while noting that he believes the “ruling is in error and [that he] will be filing an appeal.”

But nowhere does he explain the facts or take any responsibility for the chaos the he has caused by not fulfilling the legal requirements associated with holding the position of Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools.

The facts are simple enough;

Thanks to Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor and the Connecticut General Assembly, on July 1, 2012 Connecticut’s law concerning when the Commissioner of Education can waive a person’s need to be certified, in order to hold the title of superintendent of schools, was changed to make it easier for Paul Vallas to stay as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools.

The original law had been written to accommodate Steven Adamowski, who in 2007 had wanted to serve as Hartford’s superintendent of schools despite not having the necessary certification.  At the time, a law was written to allow the state’s commissioner of education to waive the need for a superintendent to have certification if the individual was a certified superintendent in another state and met various other requirements.

But Paul Vallas was never certified to hold any education position, in any state, so the Malloy administration proposed changing the law to allow the commissioner to waive Vallas’ certification requirement if he served for one year as an acting superintendent and successfully completed a “school leadership program” at a Connecticut institution of higher education.

Despite the new law being on the books for seven months, Paul Vallas made no effort to find and attend a “school leadership program” in Connecticut.  Then in February 2013 he approached the University of Connecticut to see if he could get into the UConn’s School of Education Executive Leadership Program.  But Vallas lacked the necessary academic credits to get into the program.

So instead of finding a school leadership program he could get into, he and a UConn faculty member concocted a three-credit, independent study class.  With the help of Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education they decided to try and get around the law by calling the single independent study class a “school leadership program.”

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education then used the news that Vallas had “completed” the class to waive Vallas’ need for certification under Connecticut law.

To stop this charade, Carmen Lopez, a Bridgeport resident and retired Connecticut superior court judge, along with a Bridgeport parent brought a lawsuit arguing that Paul Vallas failed to fulfill the requirements needed to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut.  With a legal team of attorneys’ made up of Norm Pattis, Kevin Smith and Dan Erwin the case went before Judge Bellis.

On Friday, Judge Bellis ruled that Paul Vallas and Stefan Pryor had violated Connecticut law and Vallas did not have the necessary credentials to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools.

Since the ruling came down, those who support Paul Vallas, including the various corporate funded education reform groups in Connecticut have complained bitterly, calling for an appeal of the case or an effort to change the law so Vallas can stay on as Bridgeport’s superintendent.

Commissioner Pryor, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas and others have even gone so far as to call the law in question a technicality.

But these people forget the fact that the “rule of law” is a founding principle in the United States of America and nothing but Vallas’ own action kept him from fulfilling a law —- A LAW THAT WAS WRITTEN FOR HIS BENEFIT.

But here we are, some of Connecticut’s highest ranking elected and appointed officials claiming that Paul Vallas should not be required to follow Connecticut law.

And then today, when Paul Vallas had the opportunity to at least come clean and tell the whole truth about the situation, he failed to provide Bridgeport’s school staff and the public with the information they need and deserve.

Instead of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, Paul Vallas chose to play the same old game, an approached based on the elitism and arrogance, an approach that has become his hallmark.

In the email to Bridgeport staff, Vallas wrote nothing except the following:

To the Bridgeport Public Schools Family:

As you may be aware, on Friday a judge issued a ruling stating that the necessary requirements had not been met in order to allow the Board of Education to offer me a contract as permanent Superintendent. I believe that this ruling is in error and will be filing an appeal.  In the meantime, I will continue to work on behalf of the Bridgeport Public Schools District.

Over the past 17 years of leading urban school districts my priority has always been, and continues to be, the students. In spite of whatever challenges we have faced this year, I have and hope to continue to enjoy working alongside each and every one of you in our work to ensure a quality education for every child.

Our students face numerous challenges and we collectively have much to do in order to ensure them an equal opportunity at a high quality education.   I look forward to continuing this work together.


Paul Vallas

Closing arguments end trial against Paul Vallas, Judge to rule by Friday

Following an incredible day of testimony on Monday, lawyers in the trial seeking Paul Vallas’ removal as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools brought the trial to an end yesterday with their closing arguments.

The differences in approach, style and substance could not have been clearer.

The lawyer for Paul Vallas and the City of Bridgeport sought to rationalize the special treatment Paul Vallas has received; telling the court that it was perfectly appropriate that Vallas only took a three-credit UConn independent study course to meet his legal requirement to complete a school leadership program before Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, could waive Vallas’ need for state certification to hold the position.

Alternatively, Norm Pattis, the attorney for former Connecticut superior court judge Carmen Lopez, who brought the suit against Vallas, pointed out that Malloy, Pryor, Vallas and the majority of the Bridgeport Board of Education have repeatedly cut corners in their never ending attempt to put and keep Paul Vallas in the position of running Bridgeport’s Schools, despite his failure to meet the most basic statutory requirements.

The message from the beginning of this case has been consistent.  Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor added language to Malloy’s “education reform” bill that allowed Pryor to waive Vallas’ certification requirement IF Paul Vallas successfully completed a one-year probationary period and successfully completed a school leadership program at a Connecticut public or private college or university.

Despite the fact that the law took effect on July 1, 2012, Paul Vallas did not begin looking into attending a program until February 2013.  After learning that he lacked the credentials to be accepted to UConn’s Executive Leadership Program, a 13-month, $25,000 program that provides the educational background necessary to get Connecticut’s 093 superintendents certification, Vallas and his UConn advisor concocted a three-credit independent study.

Upon Pryor’s recommendation, the State Board of Education approved a resolution calling the course a “school leadership program” in mid-April and 90 days later Vallas “completed” the course.

The majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education then requested Pryor to use that news to waive Vallas’ certification requirement, which Pryor did, and this past Monday the Board voted to make Vallas Bridgeport’s “permanent” superintendent.

While Paul Vallas “completed” the three-credit course, the record indicates that he never applied to the University of Connecticut, was never accepted into the University of Connecticut, never enrolled in the University of Connecticut and never paid any of the mandatory fees required for attending the University of Connecticut.

While the concept that an individual could become a permanent superintendent of schools by taking one three-credit course is absurd.  Unless, of course, you are Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor or Paul Vallas and proceed as if the law is something that only applies to others.

Although other media outlets did not cover the trail, you can read the CT Post coverage here:  http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Drive-by-schools-chief-gets-an-A-4619498.php and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Schools-chief-has-a-job-for-now-4621290.php

On Monday, in a story entitled “Drive-by-schools chief gets and A”, the Connecticut Post’s Daniel Tepfer wrote, “Acting school superintendent Paul Vallas got an “A” in a UConn course that he designed and was allowed to complete in time for him to be certified for the job, according to testimony Monday.

And this was after he was handpicked as superintendent by the head of the state’s education department, who testified that Vallas is a friend.”

Adding, “But Vallas lacked a state leadership certificate to serve as a superintendent, a certificate that at the time could only be obtained by completing a 13-month course at UConn. On April 15, the state Board of Education approved an abbreviated program — essentially an independent study under the supervision of Villanova — for Vallas to take instead. He recently completed that.”

The story added, “Villanova [Vallas’ UConn advisor] said Vallas was overqualified and did not have the time to take the 13-month course the university offers for aspiring school superintendents. So he proposed an independent study that would last 13 weeks and involve seminars and classwork. Vallas submitted six papers and met with Villanova twice for about four hours.

And on March 30, the day Vallas submitted his last two assignments, after just eight weeks, Villanova notified Vallas he had passed the course.”

Yesterday, the Connecticut Post had an article entitled Schools Chief has a job — for now, which  began, “One day after the city’s Board of Education voted to make Paul Vallas permanent superintendent of schools, a judge is deciding whether he is qualified for the job.

Although the board rushed through a vote Monday night making Vallas official, state Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis said Tuesday that she will issue her decision within the week following the conclusion of the civil trial before her.

City activist and retired judge Carmen Lopez is suing Vallas, claiming he is not qualified to run the school system of the state’s largest city.

Vallas, who never took a graduate education course, was appointed last year by state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to the $234,000 job. Pryor testified he is friends with Vallas and was impressed with Vallas’ work at other school districts, including his work in New Orleans.”

The Connecticut Post story wrapped up with, “Norman Pattis, who argued that the course Vallas took did not satisfy the law, which clearly states superintendent candidates must have completed a leadership program…He pointed out that the dean of UConn’s school of education had testified the course Vallas took was not a university program…”He (Pryor) took a course and transformed it into a program so that a friend could stay in Connecticut. The evidence before you cries of a mockery,” Pattis said.”

With the trial completed, we will know soon whether that mockery is allowed to stand.

Pitiful — Vallas and Pryor “performance” on the witness stand in the Bridgeport superintendent case

Yesterday, Paul Vallas and Stefan Pryor took the stand in the case about the fact that Paul Vallas lacks the educational and legal standing to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools.

The case was brought by former Connecticut Judge Carmen Lopez and a Bridgeport parent.  Their legal team is headed by the renowned trial attorney, Norm Pattis, as well as attorneys Kevin Smith and Dan Erwin.

After weeks of trying to delay the case, the attorneys for Paul Vallas and the City of Bridgeport reversed course and agreed to allow the case to go forward.

Among the initial witnesses was Paul Vallas and Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

After watching the testimony, the word “pitiful” is the primary description that comes to mind.  Despite being under oath, the two education reformers simply regurgitated their pro-education reform talking points.

Unwilling or unable to remember many of the most basic or important details associated with their two-year effort to change Connecticut law to allow Vallas to become the permanent superintendent of schools despite his lack of legal qualifications, the Vallas and Pryor performances were a stunning and sad reminder that we’ve reached a point in our nation where some of the highest ranking state officials can’t seem to tell the difference between the political spin of a press conference versus the appropriate approach to a court hearing where they are testifying under oath.

A prime example developed within moments of Attorney Norm Pattis’ cross examination of Paul Vallas.  Although Vallas reported that he lived in an apartment in Bridgeport, Pattis immediately got Vallas to admit that Vallas was actually a resident of Illinois.

When asked about why he was charged UConn’s in-state fee for the three-credit course when he didn’t live in Connecticut, Vallas couldn’t remember how much he paid.  He also couldn’t remember if he was actually enrolled at UConn.

But of course, the truth is easy to discover.

Vallas didn’t attend UConn’s Educational Leadership Program because he didn’t have the credentials to get into the program.  Instead he took a single three-credit independent study course, which Commissioner Stefan Pryor has been attempting to call a “program” in order to meet the certification law.

But Vallas never applied to go to a UConn program

And Vallas never was accepted to UConn a program

Vallas didn’t pay the UConn application Fee of $75.00

Vallas didn’t pay the General University Fee of $1,368

Vallas didn’t pay the Infrastructure Maintenance Fee of $468

Vallas didn’t pay for Graduate Matriculation Fee of $48

Vallas didn’t pay the Transit Fee of $110

Vallas didn’t pay for the Technology Fee of $150.

What Vallas did pay for was the in-state rate for a three-credit course —- a course his friend, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, is now calling a “program” … A program that Pryor then used to waive Vallas’ need for state certification.

The closing arguments in the lawsuit against Vallas are today.

More to come…

Vallas, Pryor and the State Board of Education temporarily dodge lawsuit (Bridgeport Style)

The state law Governor Malloy pushed through allowing his Commissioner of Education to waive the certification requirements for Paul Vallas had two simple provisions.  To become Bridgeport’s permanent superintendent Vallas would have to complete his “probationary period” as Acting Superintendent and pass an Education Leadership Program at a Connecticut institution of higher education.

In early March, the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education loyal to Mayor Finch voted 5-3 to grant Vallas a three-year contract despite the fact that Vallas had not completed his probationary period or even begun his education leadership program.

The move was illegal and former Connecticut Judge Carmen Lopez brought a lawsuit to have the decision ruled illegal and to prevent Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, from waiving Vallas’ certification requirements.

Instead of debating the merits of the case, lawyers working for  Attorney General George Jepson and for the City of Bridgeport tried to have the case dismissed, based on the fact that the state marshal hired to deliver the lawsuit had failed to serve the papers correctly.

The individual hired to serve those papers was State Marshal Charles Valentino, a long-time Bridgeport political operative who served as one of Mayor Finch’s representatives on the Bridgeport Charter Revision Commission that had recommended that the democratically elected Board of Education be eliminated and replaced with one appointed by Finch.

Well, to make a long story short, State Marshal Valentino told the lawyer and the judge that he had served the defendants as required by the law.

The only problem; Marshal Valentino’s statement was a complete and utter lie.  He had never delivered the paperwork in the way the law requires.

And now, as the CT Post is reporting, Finch’s Marshall is, “facing possible arrest for statements he made on the witness stand Wednesday in a civil case involving city Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas.”

The CT Post article explains, “’I have never had this happen in a case I have been involved with,’ said Norman Pattis, attorney for the plaintiffs, after Valentino, on Pattis’ advice, asked to consult with a lawyer before testifying further. Pattis then urged state Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis to notify the state’s attorney for possible criminal action against Valentino.”

Since Valentino failed to serve Stefan Pryor correctly, the judge was required to dismiss the portion of the case against Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the case was continued to June 3, 2013 to give the plaintiff’s time to serve Pryor correctly.

The Marshall’s failure to do his job properly allows Vallas, Pryor and the majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education another month before they will have to face a judge on the Board’s illegal move to grant Vallas a long-term contract.

You can read more at the CT Post:  http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Marshal-faces-possible-perjury-charge-4461065.php

Lawsuit against Bridgeport Board of Education, Commissioner Pryor and Paul Vallas gets more coverage

The Hartford Courant has added to the growing media coverage of the lawsuit about the Bridgeport Board of Education’s illegal contract for Acting Superintendent Paul Vallas.

As the Courant reports, Attorney Norm Pattis, who brought the lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court ruling that the Malloy Administration’s attempt to take over the Bridgeport School System was illegal, has filed a new case laying out the reasons that the contract given to education reformer extraordinaire, Paul Vallas, is also illegal.

Pattis told the Courant, “The legislature has determined that the superintendent must meet certain requirements…Bridgeport has been winking at them for a year now and Mr. Vallas thinks he deserves the wink. Bridgeport parents want to know why the rule of law isn’t good enough for their kids.”

Paul Vallas is not certified to be a superintendent in Connecticut.  A new state law, written for Vallas, allows Stefan Pryor, the Commissioner of Education, to waive that certification requirement if Vallas successfully completes a probationary period and successfully completes a program in Education Leadership at a Connecticut institution of higher education.

Last month, at the time the Bridgeport Board voted to grant Vallas a three-year contract, he hadn’t completed his probationary period or even begun an Education Leadership program.

The Courant reported that, “Vallas could not be reached for comment. State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor declined to comment about the lawsuit.”

Carmen Lopez, a retired Connecticut judge who brought the case against the Bridgeport Board of Education, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and Paul Vallas told the Courant, “The point is we can’t have one rule for every other superintendent and then a rule for Mr. Vallas. The idea is that no one is above the law.”

You can read the complete Hartford Courant story see here: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-paul-vallas-suit-0403-20130402-1,0,521832.story