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.