Lopez Files Suit To Overturn Vallas’ Contract, Pattis ‘Banging On School Board’s Door: I’m Back’

Jack Nicholson
Pattis: I feel like Nicholson in The Shning.

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.



    1. Because Finch and his buddies don’t care about the kids and neither do the people in the so-called education reform movement which ironically includes people supposedly opposed to the machine (i.e. some of the Harborview Market kaffee klatsch brigade).

    2. Jimfox, I couldn’t agree with you more. The kids are always the casualty. Lopez and the Working Families Party are destroying any chance Bridgeport kids have to get ahead. What kind of superintendent do they want to replace Vallas? Someone who will allow budget deficits to grow and instruction to deteriorate? Because that’s exactly what our last few “credentialed” superintendents have gotten us. Furthermore, what person in their right mind would want to come be superintendent in Bridgeport if Vallas is removed? In this environment? With such a bitter, aggressive and regressive board who will FOI and litigate their obstruction until the end of time? Good freaking luck with that! WFP has no other playbook but get rid of Vallas. This lawsuit is the latest example of their anti-Bridgeport antics. They have no plan for improving the schools, just more games being played with the futures of Bridgeport kids. WFP is anti-children and anti-Bridgeport.

  1. Also, isn’t this the same Carmen Lopez who was fired from the state court bench? Didn’t she try to get a seat on the BOE in 2009 and then got snubbed by the DTC? She’s a bitter, angry woman with a grudge against the city. Stop playing politics with the lives of Bridgeport’s CHILDREN.

  2. I don’t care if Lopez was fired from the bench or not. I don’t care if she is bitter or not. I don’t care what the WFP platform is. I care about what is best for the school system.
    Society, like it or not, is based on rules and regulations. In order to function these rules must be followed. We can argue all day long as to whether or not Vallas is the man for the job. We can argue all night long on the WFP being bullies.
    What we cannot ignore are rules, regulations and laws.
    If the BOE wants to hire someone, do it legally. If you want to work in Bridgeport, hold the proper paperwork and credentials. Do not expect people to break and amend the rules to accommodate your situation.
    We don’t make exceptions for our students graduating from high school. If you don’t have the proper credits, no diploma. If you don’t hold the proper certificates, no job for you!
    To do any less is a disservice to the citizens and students of Bridgeport.
    The BOE and everyone else needs to apply the law and follow it.

    1. If that is true how did Ramos graduate so many who could not read? How did those teachers in BPT cheat on the CAP test? How come so many teachers are late to work every day? Why doesn’t the city’s sick-time policy apply to the BOE? Why are there so many parked cars in the fire lanes around schools? Why are there so many political scrubs working for the BOE? If you want to start applying rules fairly and evenly throughout the system you would have to start a lot lower than Vallas.

      1. Ramos didn’t graduate all those who can’t read. Bad teachers and bad principals did. I don’t know what cheating scandal you are referring to. They take the CMT and CAPT test. I don’t know any teachers who are late to work. I have not personally witnessed cars parked illegally. There are many political scrubs working for the BOE.
        You ask why? The reason some of these things happen is because people don’t follow the rules and regulations set forth and are allowed to get away with it.
        If a car is parked illegally, tow it. If a teacher cheats on a state test it is grounds for arrest and termination. If teachers are late, there are ramifications.
        If these issues exist to the degree you claim it is because people turn a blind eye to the rules and regulations that are in place.
        Bad principals allow bad teachers to continue to teach. It is easier for them to ignore the problem than to get off their asses and do the paperwork to get rid of them. Principals and security guards allow illegally parked cars.
        It is very simple; rules, regulation and laws exist. The problem is enforcing them and not allowing and encouraging people to ignore them.

  3. Can we just be realistic and admit no amount of modern tech in the school rooms and methods of teaching can replace the family unit?
    We are just creating more dummies, as Yeats said “base products from base beds.” Bpt is a good retirement check for those in the broad teaching profession, nothing has changed in the 40 years I have been watching this show. B.S. is B.S. and time has told that to me.

    1. Black Rockin,
      I agree with you, the family unit cannot be replaced. I agree it is an important part of a child. However, just because many students come from a less than desirable family life does not make them dummies.
      I have taught in Bridgeport for almost 30 years. I am amazed each and every day by my students. They are strong individuals. Despite many obstacles in their lives, they come to school every day and give me 100 percent.
      I will hold my students up to any other student in their grade level across the state. The common measure we have is state CMT tests. A large percentage of my students score at goal or at an advanced level.
      I am NOT teacher of the year, nor do I claim to have the magic bullet. I simply operate on a guiding principle. That is what would I want for my own child.
      I treat my school children as if they were my own. I respect and admire them as if they were my own and I expect the same behavior and work ethic as if they were my own.
      And despite poor home conditions, broken homes … and the list goes on and on, I get results that will hold up in any district in CT.

  4. Like, hate or indifferent, Vallas is the best we have had in a long time and that is if you just count balancing the budget. The WFP, much like BRG, have no answers. They just want to slash and burn then walk away as we ask ourselves ‘now what do we do?’ They did not like what we had then. They do not like what we have now and if one of them became super they would turn on each other. But this is what the people wanted. They fought hard to get it and voted for it. This is democracy working in BPT. In anticipation of the next election, I would like to congratulate Mr. Finch on his victory.

    1. No-solutions hacks is what they are. Working Families Party has built quite a record for themselves: Fail students, obstruct district progress and litigate your way out of every disagreement. That’s their recipe of FAILED leadership. Come November it’s sayonara suckers!

    2. Contrary to what politicians truly desire, the highway of life is lived in the mainstream most of the time. But it’s not a one- or two-lane highway, as a matter of fact it has as many lanes as there are people, so decisions do not boil down to Yes or No, 0 or 1, black or white, etc. The many shades of gray in the middle of the pavement confuse, cause complexity and require principled responses to challenges.

      Is education a reason for a Finch victory lap? It did not look that way last November when the NO vote won, did it. Is the Mayor asking Marlene Siegel how she can post the bimonthly school reports two weeks after a month’s end spending about the same amount of money as the City side? The latter uses the same Munis system but is taking more than two months. Why? And two weeks ago when Tom Sherwood came out of the forest to retrieve some ECS funding courtesy of the City Council with a last-minute Agenda change and no public detail distribution for about $1.1 Million, is Mayor Finch’s pledge at budget time last year to provide $5 Million of cash to education still intact? I have done the math, and it does not look right to my eye. Let’s go back to the replay to see what type of victory we’re talking about. Time will tell.

  5. So long as the machine picks the Superintendent we will always get people like Vallas. Salcedo and Ramos were terrible choices. We went backwards with them. Now Vallas is coming in at a time when record building spending is planned. The people should have had a say in who leads us in that direction. Too much money is going to be handled to entrust it to the Calamarians. We need to pick our candidate now and work on getting the brain-deaders ready and willing to vote for the change we need. Otherwise we are doomed to several more years of the same.


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