"Drive-by"schools' chief gets an "A"
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Jun 24, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Acting school superintendent Paul Vallas got an "A" in a UCONN course that he designed and was allowed to complete in time for him to be certified for the job, according to testimony Monday.
And this was after he was handpicked as superintendent by the head of the state's education department, who testified that Vallas is a friend.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis must now decide whether Vallas, who by some accounts is dragging the city's school system up from the bottom of the education barrel, should remain in his $234,000-a-year job.
"Mr. Vallas is a drive-by superintendent," said Norman Pattis, the lawyer for city activist and former judge Carmen Lopez who is suing Vallas. "This was the coronation of a friend."
Pattis' accusation followed testimony Monday by Vallas and state Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, as well as from UConn Professor Robert Villanova.
Vallas was appointed last year by Pryor after city officials and local school board members requested the state dissolve the elected Board of Education and replace members with appointees. The state Supreme Court later ruled the move was illegal, and although an elected board was reinstated, Vallas remained as superintendent.
But Vallas lacked a state leadership certificate to serve as a superintendent, a certificate that at the time could only be obtained by completing a 13-month course at UConn. On April 15, the state Board of Education approved an abbreviated program -- essentially an independent study under the supervision of Villanova -- for Vallas to take instead. He recently completed that.
Pryor said he became acquainted with Vallas through Vallas' work in other school districts, especially New Orleans.
"Superintendent Vallas served as a superintendent or its equivalent across three different school systems and has accumulated 30 years-plus of government service and is regarded as one of the nation's leading lights," testified Pryor. "He has initiated a series of initiatives in Bridgeport that were meritorious."
Villanova said Vallas was overqualified and did not have the time to take the 13-month course the university offers for aspiring school superintendents. So he proposed an independent study that would last 13 weeks and involve seminars and classwork. Vallas submitted six papers and met with Villanova twice for about four hours.
And on March 30, the day Vallas submitted his last two assignments, after just eight weeks, Villanova notified Vallas he had passed the course.
"In each case it was high quality work," Villanova said.
Vallas, who testified he never took any graduate courses in education, under questioning by Deputy City Attorney Arthur Laske III, ran through a list of achievements he has made since taking the helm of the Bridgeport school system, including balancing the budget and modernizing the curriculum.
Of the UCONN course Vallas said: "I'd like to believe I exceeded expectations."
Under cross examination by Pattis, Vallas said he paid $2,148 to take the course and didn't know if he filled out the application forms normally required of prospective university students.
"I paid what I was instructed to pay," he said.
Final arguments in the case are being presented before the judge Tuesday morning.
Since: Aug 10
#2 Jun 24, 2013
Guilty as charge, fire him now.
#3 Jun 24, 2013
He's a good man. He has my and LynneB's support.
#4 Jun 25, 2013
got an "a" in a course he designed??!!??
looks like a fix was in for a $200,000 plus job..........awful.
Since: Mar 11
#5 Jun 25, 2013
In a one-party state this is what you get. That's right, I'm bringing politics into this. These creeps all scratch each other's backs, from the top down thru the state education 'leadership'.
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