State BOE watching Vallas situation from the sidelines

By Linda Conner Lambeck

HARTFORD –Watching the continuing legal battle over Paul Vallas ‘s tenure as Bridgeport’s school superintendent from the sidelines at the moment, the State Board of Education on Monday indicated it will take up a resolution directing the attorney general to present its concerns to the court.

Those concerns were not discussed and the board stepped back from a plan to take up the matter in executive session.

Board Chairman Allan Taylor said he believed the board had the authority to discuss the matter in private but since there were no action items planned, he removed it from the agenda.

Instead it will consider a wordy resolution that directs Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor to ask Attorney General George Jepsen to take steps he deems appropriate and necessary to present the board and commissioner’s concerns regarding the court’s decisions about the board’s authority and prior decisions.

The resolution goes on to say that the court decision raises significant issues of public interest regarding the future of the Bridgeport School district and the authority of the state board and commissioner.

It is a decision that “merits an expeditious review,” the resolution states.

The board this spring approved the school leadership program for Vallas that was challenged in court. A superior court judge ruled last month the independent study course Vallas took at the University of Connecticut did not satisfy a state law that would have exempted Vallas from certification requirements to remain as superintendent.  The decision is being appealed to the State Supreme Court along with the lower court’s ruling that Vallas be removed from office during the appeal process.

Vallas has been in the job in an acting capacity for the past 18 months. He has previously led school districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans but lacks the credentials to hold the job in Connecticut.

Linda Lambeck