What Kind Of Evaluation Process Is This? Working Families Party Taking It To The Streets Against Vallas

Connecticut’s Working Families Party is now taking its case door to door in an effort to build support to torpedo a contract extension for Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas who said the other day the only way he will not serve another year as school chief is if the Board of Education does not make an offer. Vallas is digging in as his WFP opponents on the school board dig in. Technically the nine-member school board is undergoing an evaluation of Vallas but with four of its members openly opposing Vallas at board meetings, a media event this week and now surrogates knocking on doors, this seems to be a unique way to do an evaluation, no?

OIB received an email from Marilyn Middlemass, a homeowner and school parent from the Upper East Side who says let Vallas complete another year.

“Last night someone from the Working Families party came to my front door.” Middlemass wrote. “They were circulating this flyer about Paul Vallas and asking people to sign a petition requesting he be removed as superintendent of Bridgeport Schools …

Let the man do the job that he was hired to do, and allow the Board to do the work that they were elected to do. The people voted on the board members and it is up to them to do all the leg work. If they are not capable of doing the job themselves, they should get out while they can. Harassing citizens at dinner time is a no no.”

And so the WFP warfare against Vallas continues. The WFP has three of its members on the elected school board, Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley. Democrat Bobby Simmons has joined them in a four-person voting bloc that’s one vote short of board control. Pereira, Baraka and Simmons are up for reelection this year. Democrats Jacqui Kelleher, Ken Moales, Tom Mulligan, Leticia Colon and Hernan Illingworth generally vote in a bloc of five. Kelleher chairs the meetings. Some school board observers say Kelleher is bending over backwards in futility in a show of diplomacy toward the WFP members who declared public war against Vallas.

Kelleher’s trying to make nice, but the WFP isn’t interested in making nice short of them handpicking their own superintendent.

Vallas was hired in Bridgeport at the urging of Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor following the state takeover of schools in the summer of 2011 that was eventually invalidated by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Vallas has run school systems in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans. His opponents say he was ineffective in those cities and is doing the same here. His supporters say the school system has made progress under his leadership in just over a year and want his contract extended.

The school board may actually vote to extend Vallas’ contract within the next two weeks.



    1. BlackRockGuy, have you made a single a comment on this blog that isn’t asking Vallas or Finch to resign? What then my friend? Let’s say they both resign, what is your plan for the city and for the schools? And be specific, because you clearly have a lot of opinions, so outline your vision for us here. You’re another no-solutions hack trying to keep Bridgeport down just like the Working Families Party. OH and by the way, Kelleher was ELECTED to the BOE. ELECTED by the PEOPLE. Get it? Someone needs a civics lesson.

      1. Ms. Kelleher is an intelligent woman who emanates dignity and finesse in the face of her adversaries. Baraka and Pereira can’t come close to being the kind of person she is. One only has to witness Pereira’s behavior at a BOE meeting to realize she is a self-serving and incompetent individual who looks as if she’s teetering on the brink of insanity. I don’t know much about Bagley or Simmons, but I certainly hope they don’t continue to follow in her footsteps.

  1. I originally thought the WFP members on the board were a good thing. I have since changed my mind and think they have one thing and one thing only on their minds and that is to be obstructionist, standing in the way of school improvements.
    While I am not a big supporter of Paul Vallas I do think it takes more time than he has been given to get the circus we know as the board of education working.
    I will admit I do not attend a lot of BOE meetings but I do read everything that is written about the BOE and I have looked at their budget numbers. I have not really seen any positive changes being offered by WFP to date. It’s easy being negative all the time but it’s hard to step forward with valid, workable ideas.
    I am tired of the BOE Working Families Party candidates and their rhetoric.

    1. Good for you for having seen through their facade, it’s becoming more obvious by the day they do not have good intentions nor do they care for the students. In fact they have failed miserably and are a disappointment to those who once believed in them. They are a disgrace.

  2. Sadly, winning through obstruction seems to have become the motto of the Working Families Party. Unable to carry a vote they seem determined to stop any vote from happening. That’s not the way government works, or at least it’s not the way it is supposed to work.

    Last year the Mayor and his minions sought to eliminate the elected Board of Education, claiming it was dysfunctional. It was an ill-advised power grab and voters from all parties united to reject it.

    Now the Board of Education members from the Working Families Party seem determined to prove the Mayor was right.

    It’s time to make a decision and bring some certainty to the future of the Bridgeport Public Schools.

    Just do it!

  3. I received one of those emails where they wanted me to sign the petition to remove Vallas. They gave me no ability to communicate how stupid that was so I deleted it.

  4. Unbelievable and yet I am not surprised. The Working Families Party are the reason the BOE is back to its old dysfunction!!! Do they have any plan besides attacking Vallas? Nope! The Bridgeport parent community is AGAINST them. So what other option do they have but to take their pathetic obstructionist, no-solutions campaign of hate to the streets? These people are something else. Yet another political group that is trying to keep Bridgeport DOWN!!! Good luck trying to run your candidates in November with your track record of failure, obstruction and hate.

  5. *** This cry out into the community just to justify their stubborn ways in getting what they want instead of turning one of the other members’ vote around with sound reason is completely “wack!” It seems regardless of whether Vallas is doing a good job or not, it would not make much of a difference since these four members are intent in just getting rid of him because he was not picked by them from the beginning. So it’s payback time regardless of any setbacks that may happen and a BOE push to start over again after the new fiscal year. If this is a sign of future things to come and the way these four are going to operate everyvtime they can’t get their way, city schools will only get worse before getting better. *** GOD HELP THE CHILDREN ***

  6. John Bagley, I certainly think, and give you the benefit of the doubt, you have higher aspirations for politics than the WFP is representing. You’d better separate yourself immediately from these other two knuckleheads on the BOE.

    1. Agreed. Bagley needs to wise up and step away from the crazies. He is on a sinking ship. I don’t think he realized the circus he was walking into. Bagley, please disown the Working Families Party. They are hurting the kids of Bridgeport!!

  7. If all the WFP says about Vallas is true, why was he ever hired in the first place? I realize the State put him here, but the city could have said “no” if he was so horrible. And yes, Vallas is a businessman; should he stop making a living? This man did not build a successful business by scamming people. If he truly is a scammer, how come no one has caught on to him yet? Maybe the WFP could answer those questions with an HONEST statement.

    1. Yes indeed, both he and Simmons should run, not walk away from that cluster of idiots. They can’t pretend to be saviors anymore, even people who once supported them are beginning to see the nature of the beast.

  8. I thought the choice of a new superintendent was moot in that the appointed BOE gave final approval to Stephan Pryor in exchange for the $3.5 million to close the budget gap. I too am dismayed at the antics of the WFP members. I voted for them in the last election because I didn’t want to vote for the DTC’s stooges. Instead it appears I’ve wound up with the Three Stooges. It’s one thing to be the loyal opposition, but they need to come up with some positive solutions instead of just being the party of NO.

  9. I’d ask each of you take an hour, sign into your local school, take a teacher aside and ask their opinion. Pop into the teacher’s lunchroom; stride with them while they walk their class to the bathroom.

    I can guarantee you the tone of this exchange will take a drastic turn.

  10. Not so straight across the board, Sue. I have several friends who are teachers in Bridgeport and they feel Vallas is making progress. What they find deplorable is the actions of the core group of obstructionists who take great pleasure in turning every BOE meeting into a free-for-all and accomplishing nothing other than creating chaos.

    1. Harcourt/Houghton online Benchmark testing that stopped halfway through? Teachers paying for their own printers and cartridges? Sped teachers with 30 students, no paras or materials and mandated hours they can’t possibly cover? An administration who has no idea how to oversee the new mandated teacher SEED evaluation goals? A superintendent who blows away their union president and pretends he has no idea what was contractually agreed to for their April vacation?
      I’m sure you think Vallas is EXCEL-ent. I can assure you they don’t.

      1. I have lots of teacher friends in Bridgeport and based on their Facebook posts, they are disgusted by what the Working Families Party is doing and also the role the BEA (THEIR union) is playing in this circus. Did Gary Peluchette ask his membership what they thought of him telling the Connecticut Post he attended the rally because most of his members hate Vallas? Conduct a poll, Gary! You’ll find out how wrong you are!

        1. Did they tell their union reps? Haven’t heard about it.
          BB, yell them to stop whining and work within the system and have their voices heard and responded to–which is why they paid their union dues.

  11. Bridgeport Code of Ethics for BOE.

    Code of Ethics for School Board Members
    A school board member shall abide by the following Code of Ethics for School Board Members:

    a. I will uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools. Desired changes shall be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures.

    b. I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their ability, race, creed, sex, or social standing.

    c. I will confine my board action to policy making, planning, and appraisal, and I will help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.

    d. I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer the schools, but, together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.

    e. I will recognize that authority rests with the board of education and will make no personal promises nor take any private action that may compromise the board.

    f. I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups or to use the schools for personal gain or for the gain of friends.

    g. I will hold confidential all matters pertaining to the schools which, if disclosed, would needlessly injure individuals or the schools. In all other matters, I will provide accurate information and, in concert with my fellow board members, interpret to the staff the aspirations of the community for its school.

    h. I will vote to appoint the best qualified personnel available after consideration of the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.

    i. I will support and protect school personnel in proper performance of their duties.

    j. I will refer all complaints to the chief administrative officer and will act on the complaints at public meetings only after failure of an administrative solution.

  12. Teachers are being chastised now by their administrators for taking professional development days they were told to take (by their administrators).

    Students who might qualify for special education must go through a committee (with no name) who decides if they qualify–and there is currently no known criteria that is used for qualification.

    There’s so much more of this craziness, but it’s dinner time.

  13. Fox was right!
    Jimfox // Feb 20, 2013 at 8:19 am

    To: Bobby Simmons, Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley.

    If you don’t know the good work of Mr. Paul Vallas by now, then the four of you are either the dumbest people we ever had sitting on the BOE, or just obstructionist. I didn’t vote your ass in to be an obstructionist.

  14. *** WFP is becoming their own worst nightmare instead of building rank with the voters, no? Time for the party to reel in these runaway BOE tuna before they get canned! *** SORRY CHARLIE ***

  15. Even the ghost of Machiavelli admits framing the recent BOE vote around a civil rights issue was a wise move by the WFP. It moved the electorate but delayed the future. Recognizing the 53-47 vote, Bridgeport needs a 4% solution.

  16. Someone reading the blog asked me, could it be possible the WFP has in fact made some good points, and Vallas has done some things beneficial? Reading here you would think the opposite.


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