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.