This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Sonia Giebel
Former Philly schools chief Paul Vallas was ordered to step down from his current post as Bridgeport’s superintendent because he did not have the required accreditations.
The state requires all superintendents to complete a 13-month-long leadership course at the University of Connecticut. Vallas, instead, took an eight-hour course that was specially designed for him.
Bridgeport families and city activist Carmen Lopez filed the lawsuit against Vallas. Their attorney Norman Pattis called the alternate course a “sham.”
"Thank heavens we had a forum and justice has prevailed," said Lopez to the Connecticut Post. "This was not a technicality, this was a serious matter."
Vallas previously served as superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans before being appointed in Bridgeport in 2011. Vallas had his position elevated to permanent status just four days before the ruling.
Educational Commissioner Stefan Pryor and Mayor Bill Finch disagree with the ruling and plan to appeal it. In a statement, Pryor said:
"We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision. Paul Vallas’ superintendency—affirmed by Bridgeport’s democratically elected school board—has brought to the city invaluable expertise acquired over Mr. Vallas’ previous 15 years as Superintendent of three major urban districts. We support Bridgeport’s decision to pursue next steps in the legal process."
They hope that the decision will be overturned in a higher court and that Vallas will be able to return to his $234,000-a-year job.
According to the Post, Vallas sent an email shortly after the decision, stating, “I am going to continue to do what I have for nearly 20 years and focus on improving schools for students desperately in need of a better education.”
Vallas oversaw the large privatization of Philadelphia schools in 2002, allowing private managers and for-profit institutions to run public schools. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans’ public schools, Vallas led the effort to reform and rebuild that district through the massive expansion of charter schools.
There was a rally to support Vallas in Bridgeport last night.
(Source: Connecticut Post)
Sonia Giebel is an intern at the Notebook.