The city Friday afternoon filed its legal brief with the Connecticut Supreme Court in support of overturning Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ ruling that Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas cannot remain on the job as a result of her prior decision he lacks proper legal certification to lead city schools. Meanwhile the State Board of Education, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Attorney General George Jepsen moved to get involved in the Supreme Court case on behalf of Vallas arguing that Bellis’ decision undercuts the authority of the State BOE. The parties filed an application with the Connecticut Supreme Court seeking permission to file a brief in support of overturning Bellis’ decision.
“The result of the trial court’s action was to oust the defendant immediately from his office notwithstanding that the elected Bridgeport Board of Education appointed him and the Commissioner determined him to be qualified to hold his office upon findings made by the SBE” (State Board of Education.)
Steven Ecker, an appellate specialist representing the city, filed a 14-page motion for review to keep Vallas on the job pending appeal of the lower court ruling:
“Three things make it impossible to fathom the trial court’s decision to terminate the stay on this record. First, there was no evidence–none–to support a finding that any actual harm will arise from Paul Vallas’s continued tenure as school superintendent pending appeal. Plaintiffs declined to put on any evidence at the stay-termination hearing in support of their motion to lift the stay. The trial judge, moreover, had previously found, in the court’s MOD on the merits, that Mr. Vallas is “deeply committed to improving the plight of the (Bridgeport) school system … (and) has made great strides during his tenure in Bridgeport towards improving the schools for the children of Bridgeport ….
… The immediate ouster of Mr. Vallas will irrevocably destroy any meaningful appellate review of this case, because if he is removed now, by the time the merits of this appeal are decided, even on an expedited schedule, it is extremely likely that Mr. Vallas will be gone or the superintendent position will be filled or both. If reversed, Bridgeport will have lost an exceptionally talented superintendent, and seen tremendous progress under his tenure undone, solely as the result of the judiciary allowing a trial court’s erroneous judgment to be executed before the defendant is able to exercise his statutory right of appeal.”
Read the full legal motion here.
The Supremes are expected to hear oral arguments about Vallas’ credentials to serve in mid September. Retired Superior Court Carmen Lopez filed the court complaint challenging Vallas’ certification.