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You Decide: The What Ifs In The Paul Vallas School Board Case

September 24th, 2013 · 27 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Education, News and Events

The Connecticut Supreme Court Monday morning heard from the Paul Vallas side arguing he’s the goods; heard from the anti-Vallas side he must be removed because he lacks legal certification to lead a Connecticut school district. The Supremes asked questions of both sides. Now the waiting begins. Is it days, weeks or months before a legal decision is rendered? Meanwhile, what about the politics of Vallas’ future?

The Supremes will decide if Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis erred in ruling that Vallas cannot lead city schools, based on a lawsuit brought by retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, a city resident, challenging his certification credentials. The Supremes have overturned Bellis on a couple of cases the past few years including her decision ordering Vallas off the job while the appeal is heard.

In March, the Bridgeport Board of Education approved a three-year contract for Vallas in a vote that continued the 5-4 split among the Democratic majority and the vocal opposition from members of the Connecticut Working Families Party. The thee-year deal came as a surprise as Vallas had postured publicly for a one-year extension to continue the reforms he’s instituted since his hiring in December 2011 at the urging of Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.

The deal calls for Vallas to be paid roughly $230,000 a year, but without the extended health benefits the prior school board approved for former school chief John Ramos to age 65. It was Ramos who had supported a state takeover of schools approved by the school board in 2011 that was invalidated by the Connecticut Supreme Court that will decide Vallas’ credentials to serve.

Now for the political dynamics: the school board makeup will change following the November general election with five open seats. Democratic school board challengers on September 10 defeated three party-endorsed candidates supportive of Vallas. They are prohibitive favorites for election. That means, barring two Republican candidates for school board defeating the Connecticut Working Families Party candidates for the state-required minority-party slots, the WFP and insurgent Democrats will have coalition control of the school board. Folks currently screaming on the outside will now be in charge.

The WFP hasn’t been bashful; they want Vallas out. The Democratic insurgents aren’t exactly members of the Vallas fan club either. Let’s assume they will control the Board of Education when the new school board is assembled in December. What if the Supremes have not made a decision about Vallas? Do school board controllers kiss Vallas goodbye with a buy-out of his contract? (They’d have to pay him at least one year’s salary under terms of his contract.) Or do they wait until the Supremes issue a decision?

Buying out Vallas’ contract is a lot of scratch. Is it prudent to wait out the Connecticut Supreme Court decision that would cost nothing if the decision goes against Vallas?

But what if the Supremes rule in favor of Vallas, then what?

What would you do in either decision?

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27 Comments so far ↓

  • Mojo

    *** If Vallas wins then it’s time to see what “positive change ideas” he has for the Bpt school system and be ready to support them ’til his contract time is up. Who knows, maybe something good will come from all of this in the end for the Bpt School System and BOE! *** PLAY BALL! ***

  • Chosen 1

    Nothing good comes from not playing by the rules. After all, this is about the children, right?

  • yahooy

    There are 160 Superintendents in the State of Connecticut. All of them (that’s right JML, all of them) with the exception of Paul Vallas have met the certification criteria as prescribed by the state. The Windham school system was also taken over by the state and an interim Superintendent was appointed. That person entered the job fully certified and credentialed. Tell me in as many words as you are capable of spewing without the benefit of fact checking why it is important Vallas stays on in a job he is not statutorily qualified to do.

    • BOE SPY

      yahooy–you are jumping the gun a little bit. The court has not ruled if the course Vallas took plus his life experience make him qualified or not. Then you have the argument to whether the certifications REALLY make a person qualified. So many have had those certifications and were inept. Can leadership really be taught or is it an inherent personality trait?
      Nonetheless, if the court case goes in Vallas’ favor and WFP wins the board they will exchange ‘do what I say’ Vallas for a ‘let me scratch your belly’ super and things will revert to what they were.
      If the court case goes in Vallas’ favor and WFP loses, Vallas will institute some reforms and leave a system his replacement can follow. Then his replacement will not do that. The same powers that fight against Vallas will bring in someone who will put things back like they were and everyone will add Bridgeport to the list of places Vallas went to and left and stayed the same.
      If the court case goes against Vallas things will simply go back as they were. No one has come up with a plan on what to do. They do not acknowledge what was wrong with what we were doing, how we can fix it or a valid replacement for Vallas. The only solution the anti-Vallas crew has is make him leave and ‘spent more money.’

      • yahooy

        Why should the rest of the 160 Superintendents be credentialed and Vallas get a pass? Windham was taken over by the state and is worse shape than Bridgeport. Yet their interim superintendent was required to be certified and credentialed. I want the same for my town.

        • BOE SPY

          Saying Windham was worse off than Bridgeport is a subjective view. Windham is a much smaller school district and may not have been able to afford to hire Vallas. Vallas could have been the best person to apply to BPT. Is Windam ‘in worse shape’ than BPT financially, scholastically or both? I am sure both school districts hired the best person who: 1- they could afford and 2- would agree to come.
          Per: www .greatschools.org/schools/districts/Connecticut/CT
          Windham is 3 for 10 and BPT is 2 for 10. You are single-minded. Remember, you have convinced no one in this town you really know of what you continually conger up without the benefit of facts. Some people around here think that type of person is simply a BS’er.

  • yahooy

    The saga of Paul Vallas, to hear him tell it, is one of too much success.

    “What happens with turnaround superintendents,” he said, “is that the first two years you’re a demolitions expert. By the third year, if you get improvements, do school construction, and test scores go up, people start to think this isn’t so hard. By year four, people start to think you’re getting way too much credit. By year five, you’re chopped liver.

    These are Paul Vallas’ own words justifying his recent tenures. This was taken from the national educational publication ‘Education Next.’

    • yahooy

      I stand humbly corrected. Have once been engaged by the United States as a dispenser of that bullet I should have known it is .223 in caliber. Not much mention by you about your absurd factless statement the bullet in question was designed to wound. How come?

      BTW
      CT Taxpayer demonstrated your lack of factual presentation in the other current post. You got slammed pretty good. Ever consider retiring so we can get some meaningful dialogue going on this blog?

      • BOE SPY

        I said, the 223 designed to wound is a theory. I believe it and have found things shot at range (+300 yards) by 223′s were just horribly wounded. I did not continue with this line of conversation because the article is not about guns. Just in the same way I did not comment on your post about Vallas being elected Governor of IL. The article is not about that. 2- who cares, we do not want him to be Governor. 3- too bad for Illinois. They chose poorly. In hindsight they would probably pick Vallas.
        CT Taxpayer did correct me on teachers serving on the BOE. However, I do believe, my own theory, retired teachers on the BOE would have a hard time being objective. In the same way a teacher’s spouse on the BOE would. They would have a hard time making choices that would upset friends they have who are still in the system. They would have a hard time voting on issues that may affect their own pensions. CT Taxpayer disagreed and that is OK. BOE members need to walk a fine line between advocating for the students and protecting the interests of the taxpayers who elected them and do this without undue influence or prejudice. Still, none of this is pertinent to the article.

        • yahooy

          Maybe you should change your OIB handle to MR. BOJANGLES. You seem to do a lot of tap dancing.

          • yahooy

            What’s pertinent to this article is I object to you and your friends stating facts without any basis at all. You have been called on this too many times. Mea Culpa has its limits and gets old fast.

  • Chosen 1

    He is a privatization expert. Which would save the city tons of money for the greedy politicians to stick their hands into the cookie jar.

  • John Marshall Lee

    BOE SPY,
    Thank you for patiently taking Y-guy through the procedural steps.
    We are in a time of change. Just read the 50 pages of the five-year Vallas plan. Many people have not, because they do not argue against the plan or its implementation, finding articles critical of Paul Vallas, reformer in other cities, much more exciting.
    Y-guy suffers from premature exclamation. It cannot be cured by surgery, but rather by healing therapy that is offered by blog readers listening to him until he tires.
    The Supremes have the briefs, they asked a lot of questions, and they heard hard answers to factual, opinion-based and hypothetical questions. As is my custom, I close with, time will tell.

  • yahooy

    Vallas has done the same thing as far as strategic planning in all the districts in which he worked. Mayor Daley of Chicago found it necessary to ‘ease’ Vallas out when it became clear the grandiose plan didn’t work. Philadelphia grew tired of Vallas when his plan resulted in an ‘unanticipated’ $73,000,000 deficit. He promised a balanced budget, even a surplus. It is amusing to me to note Vallas is so well thought of in Chicago, he was beaten by the infamous Rod Blagojevich who now serves the People by making license plates.

  • Phil Smith

    Here is an idea. Instead of talking about Vallas, privatization, unions or politicians, the candidates should focus on one question: What is best for the kids in what is undeniably one of the worst-performing school districts in the state. Now that would be a novel approach.

    • yahooy

      Smith,
      Clearly what’s good for the kids is not Vallas. That comment is based upon an extrapolation, regrettably a word and concept too few of our students and some of our prolific OIB contributors are unfamiliar.

  • Follow the Money

    This case is about the Law! The same as when the BOE blew up the board and the State BOE did not follow the state law. Like it or not, Vallas will win this case.

  • yahooy

    BOE SPY,
    You already know what I think of you and your baseless and thoughtless shoot-from-the-hip commentary. You and The Bow Tie Bozo fail miserably to dig to the depths of issues before straining out brain farts you expect the public to accept without question.

    Shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook when I fiercely condemned the sale to the public of the 7.62 caliber 5.56mm bullet used by Adam Lanza in his AR 15, you challenged my statement that bullet was designed specifically for the military to effect maximum devastation and destruction upon the human body. It had no business being available to the public and should be restricted only to the military. You berated me stating you had proof positive that bullet was specifically designed only to wound. In your words and they are accurate in this instance, wounded soldiers require the aid of other soldiers to recover them for treatment thereby diminishing the combat effectiveness of the unit. Nowhere on earth is there a basis of fact to substantiate your stupid comment the bullet was designed to wound. To think otherwise is absurd. When you and JML dump your thoughts onto this blog with unsubstantiated rhetoric you detract from its ability to provide a diversity of thought for the readers to discern as to value.

    I am entertained by Don Quixote when he tilts at windmills with a makeshift lance in his impossible dream to win the affections of the fair Dulcinea. I am amused when our own Don Quixote tilts at Calamarian windmills with a snow shovel expecting the affection of the people of this great city. Both are dreamers. Purveyors of Verba non Acta. Both may expect the same result.

    • BOE SPY

      Big surprise, your facts are off again. The AR-15 is most commonly chambered in 22.3 caliber or 5.56 millimeter. The new ‘legal’ AR’s are chambered in 22 long rifle. The same bullet used to shoot Reagan. The AK-47 is chambered in 7.62X39 millimeter and the M-60 is chambered in 7.62X57 millimeter also called the 7.62 NATO or 308 caliber (a 30 caliber round adopted for military service in 1908, hence 308.) 1 caliber equals .01 inches. A 50-caliber bullet is 1/2 an inch (12.7 mm) across where the bullet fits into the shell casing. The difference between 22.3 and 5.56 is just converting millimeters into inches and multiplying by 100. The 223 had a number of design specifications the military sought to improve the effectiveness of the soldier.
      The theory the 5.56 was designed to wound is out there but there is no ‘smoking gun’ design specification that states as such. I often post links so what I state can be independently researched. You can feel free to Google it yourself and refute my claims.
      In closing, Vallas won and you didn’t. Nanner, nanner neener. If we are going to get childish with the name-calling, let’s go all out.

      • yahooy

        Unforgivable. I was once hired by the United States of America to dispense those bullets. I should have known the caliber was .223 and not confuse it with the standard-issue NATO bullet, the 7.62. My providing this misinformation was the result of a mistake, not, like you, a reckless attempt at self-gratification by stating facts with no known basis as does your new best friend. CT Taxpayer takes you to task for the very same reason in the other Vallas-related post on this blog. To cite another example of the frailty of the Pedantic One, he continually berates me for my anonymity yet celebrates yours because you seem to agree with his method of factual reporting. How embarrassing for him.

        • John Marshall Lee

          Y-guy,
          You are shooting blanks and using lots of words to do it. Fact. And talking about guns and bullets is not the subject at hand.
          What plan is in the back pocket of anti-Vallas folks, item by item, and what would that budget look like? Can you provide an estimate? I’m hoping you can point to something specific and get off the ad hominem rant. It might be the beginning of a discussion, dialogue, or at least an attempt to inform.
          Do you have a READY, AIM and FIRE protocol for school change? Or are you ever on automatic fire? Time will tell.

          • yahooy

            The subject at hand is BOE SPY is as big a bullshitter as are you. “Y-guy.” Is that the best you can do?

  • Jimfox

    The Supremes will order tempus amplius.

  • yahooy

    BOE SPY,
    Your words …
    “The theory the 5.56 was designed to wound is out there but there is no ‘smoking gun’ design specification that states as such.”

    What are we supposed to do here? Take your word for it?

  • anna

    Y doesn’t yahooy go away!

  • Jimfox

    I thought he was away, and someone sneaked him a laptop at the asylum.

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