Vallas Remains On Job, For Now–Vallas Supporters To Conduct Rally For School Chief

Pattis and Lopez
Attorney Norm Pattis and Carmen Lopez in court. Photo courtesy of Connecticut Post.

UPDATE: Supporters of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas are organizing a rally for tonight (Monday) at 6 at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, 729 Union Avenue, hosted by Rev. Ken Moales, president of the Board of Education, according to Joshua Thompson, director for Education and Youth Policy-Deputy CAO for Education, Office of Mayor Bill Finch.

The battles continue. The war is far from over. The latest round to determine the future of the Board of Education goes to retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, aided by the legal mind of stormin’ Norm Pattis, who persuaded Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis that Paul Vallas lacked the proper legal qualifications to serve as chief of city schools. Next step comes today when the city files an official appeal. According to lawyers familiar with Connecticut civil procedure, enforcement of a judgment is generally suspended (or in legal terms “stayed”) pending decision on appeal. The plaintiff can move to terminate the stay, but that is the exception when it comes to preserving the rights of a party. (OIB lawyers, feel free to weigh in.) So Vallas, for now, remains on the job.

We are about three weeks away from political party conventions to endorse school board candidates. Five seats are available, occupied by Democrats Tom Mulligan, Leticia Colon, Bobby Simmons and Connecticut Working Families Party representatives Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka. Word is Simmons, who generally votes in a bloc with the WFP, will pack it in. Word is Mulligan and Colon want to pack it in but the party so far has not found acceptable replacements. And in fact very few candidates are stepping up to run for a volunteer citywide job to set policy for the largest school system in the state and oversee the single largest piece of the city budget.

City Councilman Andre Baker, representing the city’s East End, is considering a run for school board, but can he–a critic of Mayor Bill Finch–secure the endorsement from the 90-member Democratic Town Committee? If not, he’d need to hustle roughly 2000 signatures of registered Democrats, approved by election officials, to place his name on the ballot for a September Democratic primary.

The hostility, legal and otherwise, for control of the board has had its impact on potential candidates. Not many want to jump into that pot of political blood. This school board election cycle is shaping up as another red meat battle, similar to the ballot question last November when voters rejected a mayoral-appointed school board, with expenditures flooding in from political parties and independent education organizations.

The Vallas court decision will certainly find its way into this election. It’s also an opportunity for Republicans to win back two of the three minority-party school board slots they’ve lost to the WFP since 2009.



  1. Let’s hope Deputy City Attorney Arthur C. Laske handles the so-called swift appeal on the city side, After all, he’s up for the Hamilton Burger Award again.

  2. Although Paul Vallas is often credited by the mainstream media as having “saved” Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, these districts remain unsaved. Of the three, Philadelphia is in the worst shape today, its finances in shambles, desperately underfunded, neatly 4,000 teachers and other staff laid off, schools under threat of closure or privatization, students with little or no access to the arts and the other essentials of a basic education.

    Here is a report on Vallas’ time in Philadelphia.

    1. Following four years of balanced budgets under Vallas, Philly had a deficit in 2006 caused by (1) the state’s slow pay on its obligation to reimburse for school renovation costs and (2) $18.6 MILLION more in teacher retirement costs than projected. Sounds like a lot, but Philly is so big, the actual deficit in Vallas’ last year was less than 1% of the total budget. The state did finally pay up and the budget was balanced in 2007. In 2010 the feds cut $234 MILLION in funding and in 2011 Republican Gov. Tom Corbett cut $1 BILLION from the state’s education budget–$292 MILLION from Philly schools alone. Blaming Vallas for that makes about as much sense as it would to blame Clinton for the Bush era tax cuts and unfunded wars that ballooned the federal deficit.

    1. Hey Joel Gonzalez, do you know if Hector Diaz is running for a seat on the BOE? Because I asked Hector five hours ago why do you want to be on the Bridgeport Board of Education and why should voters vote for you and he has never replied back. I would think if someone is posting on OIB they are running for a elected City position, they would reply and follow up to keep viewers aware, but …? Just asking.

      1. Ron, I’m sorry, but I don’t view the blog as often on the weekend as I do during the week, Side question, why would you ask Joel for anything concerning me, do you have a predisposed notion all Puerto Ricans call each other or are friends? Maybe you could give me Mr. Tisdale’s take on certain subjects? In a nutshell my reason for wanting to be on the Board of Education, from a letter I offered to my colleagues on the DTC. With over a quarter century of devoted service to this city and the Democratic party, I believe my experience and understanding of the city’s needs will serve to benefit our students and their future. I have a six-year-old daughter, she is heading into her second grade in “OUR” local school system. Her impending education has rekindled my aspirations to become a voice in the decision-making aspects that will affect her future and that of the children who grow with her. As her number-1 supporter, I will very proudly be involved in her education for the next 15 to 20 years; why not embrace that involvement entirely and fight for the issues that will benefit all of Bridgeport’s students. I know the legislative process and have friends at the Capitol. In Washington I know Senators and Congressmen (from states outside of Connecticut) who would not hesitate in giving me any assistance needed to help our system. I don’t believe many other of the candidates could bring this to the table.

        1. Mr. Diaz, could you please provide details of your quarter of a century of service to the city? I strongly believe there should be a majority of parents with school children in the schools on the board. Knowing the details of your years with the city is important to me (and probably other voters) so we can see what you have supported in the past. Thanks so much!

          1. Ms. Buchanan, I am seeking the endorsement from the DTC. If you would like to meet with me after the conventions, it would be a pleasure. If I do not get the endorsement or if you have another plan please feel free to communicate it to me, I then would be happy to interview with you. You can email me at

      2. Ron Mackey, I’m sorry, but I don’t view the blog as often on the weekend as I do during the week. The last time I posted here, I’m sure we were in a Democracy where anyone can ask a question. I can answer your question now, but first I’ll answer Hector’s question to you. The reason Ron Mackey asked Joel Gonzalez a question is because he knows I’ll give him an interesting response.

        “… do you have a predisposed notion all Puerto Ricans call each other or are friends?”

        Ron, your notion is a noble one. It would be great not only if Puerto Ricans call each other and be friends, it would be a better city if we did the same to everyone regardless of race.
        So it’s clear Hector has me on his Puerto Rican do not call or be friends with. That’s okay as long as we remain OIB friends.
        Welcome to OIBurgerking, Hector A. Diaz can I help you? You want it your way?

        “From a letter I offered to my colleagues on the DTC, with over a quarter century of devoted service to this city and the Democratic party, I believe my experience and understanding of the city’s needs will serve to benefit our students and their future.”

        “over a quarter century of devoted service to this city and the Democratic party.”

        Remember when Lennie Grimaldi came up with the name Hector Houdini? That was in 2008 when “the city,” more specifically the 129th district needed change. Auden Grogins went in front of your Town Committee. You had pledged your support and when the day came …

        One thing for sure Ron, is Hector wants a spot on the BOE. Problem is the Machine has drivers. Hector needs the blessing of Bill Finch if he is determined to go down the Machine endorsement. If Leticia and Mulligan don’t want to run again and no one else or too few are willing to take it, Hector will get it. Either way, Hector will have to “call” and be “friends” with Bill Finch.

        One of the qualities I’m considering in some of the BOE candidates is being a parent of a Bridgeport School student. So that will get Hector A. Diaz a plus on my scorecard. Good luck Hector and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask your OIB friend.

        1. Joel Gonzalez, thanks, I’m in agreement with you.

          Hector A. Diaz // Jun 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm
          I have made my desire to run for the BOARD OF EDUCATION known.

          Jennifer Buchanan // Jul 1, 2013 at 11:40 am
          Mr. Diaz, could you please provide details of your quarter of a century of service to the city?

          Hector A. Diaz // Jul 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm
          Ms. Buchanan, I am seeking the endorsement from the DTC. If you would like to meet with me after the conventions, it would be a pleasure.

          Now Joel, does this sound like someone who is serious about running for the BOE with these comments like, my desire to run or the reply to Ms. Buchanan? I would think (and I could be wrong) if someone posts their desire to run for the BOE on OIB, they would tell us all WHY they want to be on the BOE and their record, telling me how long you have been around and name-dropping people from other states is not saying anything but once again, I could be wrong. So Joel, where did I go wrong?

        2. Joel, I apologize if you believe there was any malice in my comments to Ron, they were not meant that way, nor was I attempting to change any of OIB’s policies. I sign in with my name because I want people to know MY views, If I am directed a question I would like to be the one to answer it. While you and I have worked against each other and with each other at different times in our political lives, we always have been cordial, I would expect that to continue. I find you to be a fierce competitor, loyal to the brink of insanity and if you were to support my efforts I know on the STREET you could make a difference. I close with while all of us can’t be friends, we can be friendly.

          1. Hector A. Diaz, don’t take this the wrong way but you have been in the political game a long time and I expect you to be direct and make it known you want to be on the BOE and tell us why we should vote for you. You understand how blogs work so you must be on point if you are running. If you do run I wish you the best but don’t leave yourself open for someone to say you are not sure.

          2. Thank you Ron, your comments are appreciated. I would very much like to be on the BOE, once I become an official candidate I will let my platform be known.

          3. *** Hector, you really need not explain yourself to anyone about your desires to be on the thankless Bpt BOE. If you do not get the DTC’s endorsement, you can run as a petition candidate in which with your political background and experience could bring some much-needed new blood to the BOE. Good luck; they’ll be plenty of time for explaining should you actually run, no? ***

          4. Remember when 60 Minutes Roger Miss asked Senator Ted Kennedy a simple question that Kennedy fumbled, “why do you want to be President?” He could never quite answer in his failed campaign for the White House.

          5. Indeed, Hector! While we had our political differences, we’ve kept it cordial. It wasn’t any easier for me to choose someone else over you any more than it was for you to decide between Grogins and Keeley. We need upstanding representation on the BOE and I expect this even more from Hispanic members of the BOE. I do feel you will be more responsible and independent than Leticia Colon if you were to be on the BOE.
            If you hear of anyone looking for a proxy, let me know. Good luck!

  3. Folks seem to be looking all over for someone who can ‘fix’ education in BPT. I would hypothesizes there is only one person who can do that, the student. I would suggest there is nothing wrong with education in BPT. People seem to think schools are like barber shops. You walk in hairy and walk out groomed. When in reality, schools are more like gyms. You CAN walk in scrawny and walk out buff but that would depend on what you do while you are in there. If one student does well then that school is doing well. If any student does what that one student did, i.e. study, they would also do well. We made the mistake of guaranteeing every student an education when in reality we can only offer every student an education.

    Is Vallas ‘qualified?’ According to the judge, no. It would seem he did not take some class you would need to run a school system. Ramos took that class and it did not help him. Under the same logic, parents should not be involved in teaching their children anything. Parents did not take the class to be qualified.

    What should a superintendent do? Watch the money, make sure people are doing what they are supposed to do and put people where they can do the most good. Vallas did that. He posted proof of it on the BOE web site.

    Why is privatization a threat? People pay big bucks to send their kids to private school. Why not make all the schools private schools? Finch did transfer maintenance, security and crossing guards (all full of cronies) to the city side. What is the difference between elitist private schools and the magnate schools we already have?

    Once again change came to BPT and BPT fought tooth and nail to put everything back just like it was.

    1. To BOE SPY, good analogy but a bit flawed. A scrawny kid looking to get buffed needs a great personal trainer. You can’t get there without parents who are involved and supportive, teachers (trainers) who care more about teaching and less about personal success, and administrators who have a record of success with a governing Board of open-minded community leaders without political agendas. There is enough blame to go around as to how education is treated in Bridgeport. A superintendent needs to be a leader who can recognize ALL the issues and seek remedies. Ramos and those from the past had certificates and failed, Vallas didn’t have one but at least had a plan. There is no quick fix. Let’s start be electing the best Board, one that will swear to be apolitical.

    2. BOE SPY, all I want is our children’s “opportunities” are equal to those of the children in other cities and towns. You are right in saying a person will get as much as they put in. What I’d like is to ensure the resources be there for that “child” {they are children, and as such NEED direction} so they can compete at any level!

      1. Hector,
        The resources have not been made available in terms of up-to-date buildings, cutting-edge technology (Central HS renovation includes changing two-pronged electrical outlets to three-hole outlets so as to use the current machines), teaching materials with a consistent curriculum, meaningful professional development that leads directly to quality teaching … all take money.

        You have been around the City and State, why has this situation been allowed to happen by the DTC as the party in charge of the levers for most of the years? When Finch was first elected, he flatlined education for several years; he reduced a $5 million commitment for 2013 by $1.1 million but did meet the “minimum budget requirement;” however for the current 2014 budget the City has to make up $3.3 for the MBR in some manner having “nelgected” to place it in the budget presented to the City Council on April 2. What can you add to this “necessary resource recitation” as you have been active for more years than me? Time will tell.

        1. I would disagree with the ‘need’ for technology. We did not have all that stuff and we did fine. If you go into a classroom with 40 kids on computers, 20 are looking at porn, 10 are watching videos and 10 are playing Tetris. In one school, all the new flat-screen monitors were stabbed to death with pencils. Pencils the teacher needed to supply ’cause the kids cannot manage to bring their own. However, they did manage to bring their cell phones. Look, take a survey, ask what our high school students think they are going to do when they graduate. Survey says:
          #1 professional athlete
          #2 professional musician
          #3 gangster
          These may be valid goals (all about as plausible as winning the lottery) but none require an education. Why would a kid in Bepo work hard to pursue something that is not going to help them achieve their life goal? What do we do to fix this? We have an ex-NFL player come talk to the kids. We offer summer basketball camps. We have a glee club. We barely have any cheerleaders (a recognized FCIAC sport) because all the kids are in the hip-hop club.
          I have seen kids do very well in BPT schools. They had a goal, a plan to achieve that goal and took advantage of the resources available to fulfill it. One big mistake is the ‘every kid graduating college ready.’ Some of the kids I have seem went to college but many became tradespeople. After all, BPT’s glory was build on the back of machinists and machinists still make more than teachers and avoid all that student debt.
          I do believe many of our educational problems are cultural. The only thing we need to do is give education a perceivable value. If we can do that it will be all we can do to keep the kids from stealing it.

  4. Appeal or no appeal, Vallas’ reputation has been defiled and downgraded by this legal ruling. It’s just my assumption, but I’m guessing he’ll probably resign. Now finding a replacement is going to be a struggle based on the turbulence and strife that goes along with the position. Good luck with that.

  5. The City of Bridgeport should not be hiring or paying for any outside counsel in this case. Paul Vallas is not an officer or employee of the City of Bridgeport. Any related decisions should be made and the costs should be born by the BOE. Concerned Bridegport taxpayers should file a class action suit against Mayor Finch, the City Council and other responsible parties if they incur additional direct legal fees in connection with this matter. Stay tuned.

  6. *** It’s a bit much to have the president of the Bpt BOE host a support rally for Supt. Vallas, no? Personal support is one thing but hosting a rally supports the WFP claims that K. Moales and others on the BOE are pro-admin in every sense of the word! With anti-admin members always fighting pro-admin members it’s a wonder anything gets done at all. What’s really needed is to clean house on the board and the school system’s budget becomes independent from the city altogether (separate budgets)! Its continued circus-like actions (BOE) will always keep Bpt schools at a failing level and the lonely talked-about stepchild of the State. ***

    1. When Auden Grogins was on city council she pushed to have the BOE have a separate account. Right now all school funds go into the city account and they disburse to the BOE. I agree with you Mojo, a separate BOE AND a board of finance for city funds with veto power for the city are in dire need.

      1. Jennifer,
        I agree, we need to have separate accounts for the BOE they control and a Board of Finance for the City of Bridgeport. We also need a state-appointed Financial Control Board to restructure Bridgeport’s finances.

    2. A bit much? That’s almost funny. From the March 4, 2013 CT Post:

      BRIDGEPORT — They have launched an online petition. They are knocking on doors. They have staged a sidewalk rally outside Warren Harding High School and even flew a retired teacher in from Chicago.

      The campaign being waged by the Connecticut Working Families Party is not on behalf of a political candidate, an election, or even pocketbook issues like the minimum wage or job creation … Working Families has three members on the nine-member school board … the effort to oust Vallas is payback for a covert and eventually failed effort to replace the elected city school board with one named by the state.

      At least tonight’s rally at 6:00 p.m. is at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at 790 Union Street, rather than disrupting the peace in front of a school like the aforementioned anti-progress anti improve the schools rally on March 4th.

      1. You don’t know what you are talking about. I attended that rally. It was after school hours and was peaceful except for the thugs from Excel who tried to break it up by shouting us down. In fact one member was trying to intimidate us by very loudly talking about how he had just gotten out of prison. So spare me the phony outrage.

        1. As Outpost Educator points out, several months ago the WFP supported a rally that was anti Vallas. It was attended by current WFP BOE members, no one had an issue with that. But now there is an issue with Moales having a pro Vallas rally. You can’t have it both ways.

          1. Lifelong: Thank you for understanding and clarifying my very obvious point. There was no outrage expressed–just a calm observation. Outrage is exhausting and BRG seems to have cornered the market on that anyway.

    3. Mojo … This is definitely a conflict of interest. Kenneth Moales may have harmed Mayor Finch on many levels. Maybe if he orchestrated it and had some underling host the event. This is inappropriate on so many fronts, being an impartial reverend or a BOE president or a Finch treasurer. It makes him look less sincere and more concerned with personal gain. This is just plain stupid. I Have not met many teachers who supported him. I wonder if his supporters on this blog will show their solidarity. I cannot imagine the Mayor showing up. Corruption would be hard to dispel, we are already dealing with a $400,000 driveway.

    1. Chosen 1, will you provide a comment on the American Revolution and the folks who rebelled? Which people were “doing things the wrong way” by “going against rules and the courts?”

      Our high school kids need your input so they can decide which group of adults in the community they can consider as ‘nice role models.’ We’ll be waiting for your educational discourse and thank you for making such effort. Time will tell.

        1. I have a full-time job, too, and a very full life. In your immediate previous post, you spoke of “nice role models for the children.”

          Does your previous suggestion to me, uninformed and slightly ill-tempered as it was, pass the test of responses you would use as a role model for the children? Time will tell.

          1. Yes, it does. Teaches the children when someone thinks they are smarter than you and they are high and mighty, you knock them down a few pegs.

  7. Here’s my prognostication on Paul Vallas’ future in Bridgeport. The BOE will devise a new position, i.e. Schools CEO or COO or Director of Education or some such, which will be then filled by Vallas. If a superintendent is indeed needed to fulfill some legislative directive then an “interim” supe will be appointed from within the ranks of those whom Vallas brought with him.

  8. I apologize for changing the subject but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the loss of 19 firefighters in Arizona’s deadliest blaze. President Barack Obama also lauded the efforts of the fallen firefighters, saying their deaths are heartbreaking and “our thoughts and prayers go out” to their families. His administration stands ready to help in any way necessary, he said.
    “They were heroes–highly skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet,” he said in an earlier statement.

    1. Nineteen heroes, seven under the age of 25. It is a nightmare. Firefighters and policemen and woman put their lives on the line every day. Very sad day in Arizona. I am certain these fallen will be remembered with great respect. When you hear the resumes of these heroes it is heartbreaking. I have always held firefighters and police on a pedestal. They have chosen a career path that puts them in harm’s way every day. RIP TO THE FALLEN HEROES.

  9. Ron,
    I agree with you about the tragic loss of the 19 firefighters from Arizona. My middle brother was a Fire Marshall and undercover drug enforcement agent in Florida during his career. Fortunately, he survived and is living in South Carolina now.

  10. Credit recovery was started by Ramos and in full swing before Vallas showed up. Ramos closed all the trades courses and disassembled the shops. Vallas closed 925 and put all those teachers back in the classroom and most quit. I have seem nothing put ‘help wanted’ ads in my e-mail for months. Here are all the people Vallas is trying to hire:
    I see 77 jobs. Maybe he needs to hire these people in order to have his massive layoffs.

  11. If the City is looking for a competent interim Superintendent for the Bridgeport Public Schools, I can think of two extremely respected principals who are involved and always present. I have been in almost every school in this city and had the pleasure of working with some truly committed teachers and principals. I think parents, teachers, the state and the City should consider Dr. Melissa Jenkins from High Horizons Magnet and Dr. Ralph Paladino from Barnum Elementary. Get them in place and move forward. Does the city need yet another albatross to distract us from moving forward? Does the Mayor believe this is a battle he can win given all of the associations? If the teachers do not support Vallas, how can any individual with half a brain believe he can implement any long-term improvements?

    1. Regardless to the sweeping, unsubstantiated and rather insulting painting of teachers as lemmings, an individual with half a brain can understand:
      2005: 68% of New Orleans children attend failing schools.
      2010: 18% of New Orleans children attend failing schools.

      2005: 35% of New Orleans children at grade level.
      2012: 60% of New Orleans children at grade level.

      2007: New Orleans children trail state averages by 23%
      2013: New Orleans children trail state averages by 6%

      88% percent African American, 85% at poverty level. These kids can learn. So can the kids in BP.

      There’s albatross in these parts for sure, but it showed up long before 2012.

      1. Outpost Educator, I hope you did not think I was referring to teachers with half a brain. My point was whether Vallas had a miracle up his sleeve or not, the teachers apparently and overwhelmingly do not support him. If that is the case, he needs to go.

  12. Outpost Educator, again I fear my post was confusing and it appeared I was disrespectful of teachers. I hope the clarification has been made. That being said, I also want to make it clear I have worked with and spoken to a number of teachers who should have been kicked out of the school system years ago. They are miserable, incompetent, protected and look the other way when it comes to bullying. They have no respect for the students or the parents. They take the check from Bridgeport and go home to the suburbs. The Unions do not serve the purpose of the students but their own. Any company an individual would get three write-ups and they would be looking for a new career. So now you have my other opinion. But thankfully I have worked with some of the best committed professionals and I am hopeful.


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