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Why judge ordered Paul Vallas removed as Bridgeport schools chief

Paul Vallas Paul Vallas

A Superior Court judge in Connecticut has ordered that Paul Vallas, a major school reformer who has run schools in Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia, be removed from his job as superintendent in Bridgeport because he hadn’t complied with a state law requiring him to take a school leadership program.

The judge, Barbara Bellis, wrote a 27-page opinion explaining how an alternative course  set up for Vallas to take — for which he wrote six papers and met with a professor twice for about four hours — was inadequate to meet the requirements of the law, and therefore, Vallas isn’t qualified for the job he started in January 2012, the Connecticut Post reported.

University of Connecticut Professor Robert Villanova, who was overseeing the course Vallas was taking, testified that it was designed to include “classroom sessions, seminars and technology-assisted discussions,” the newspaper reported.

The judge wrote in her opinion:

Vallas and his witnesses were, at times, less than candid with the court…The evidence was overwhelming that from the start, efforts were made to accommodate the appointment of Vallas as superintendent of the Bridgeport public school system at every level. The court orders that Paul Vallas be removed from his office.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said he disagreed with the court decisions and expects that it will be reversed in a higher court and that Vallas will resume his $234,000 a year job.

Vallas has been at the forefront of modern school reform. Back in 2002 when he was in charge of Philadelphia’s schools, he oversaw what at that time was the largest exercise in allowing private managers — including for-profit companies — to run public schools. In New Orleans, where he was hired after Hurricane Katrina to supervise the reconstruction of the ravaged school system, he oversaw the creation of a collection of charter schools.

You can put this in the laws-only-matter-for-other-people category.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · June 28, 2013

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