Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez has filed a complaint in state court seeking to invalidate last month’s 5-4 vote by the Board of Education granting a three-year contract to Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas, claiming Vallas lacks the certified credentials to serve as school chief. She’s represented by Norm Pattis, the lawyer who persuaded the Connecticut Supreme Court to overturn state control of city schools.
In an email to OIB Pattis wrote, “I feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, only in this case I’m banging on the Bridgeport School Board’s door: “I’m back.” As to Vallas’s claim to be the Michael Jordan of education, let me remind him that Jordan had to follow the rules to score points.”
State law mandates Connecticut school chiefs must be certified by the State Department of Education, but such requirements may be waived for up to one year by the state’s education commissioner. State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, who recruited Vallas to Bridgeport to lead the troubled school system after the school board requested a state takeover in 2011, has provided Vallas a waiver of certification until he meets the credentials required. Vallas is enrolled in the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Connecticut. The suit challenges whether “Vallas has the predicate academic and professional credentials necessary for admission to the Executive Leadership Program” among other conditions in conjunction with Vallas’ hire.
Prior to Bridgeport, Vallas served as school chief in the school systems of Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
Lopez, a resident of Black Rock, is aligned with the four school board members who voted against Vallas’ contract, Working Families Party members Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka, John Bagley and Democrat Bobby Simmons. Lopez frequently attends school board meetings and provides advice to the minority voting bloc in strategic positioning against Vallas’ policy proposals.
See the lawsuit here.