BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has filed a complaint with the state against Bridgeport schools, alleging district officials violated a law requiring public input in school decisions.
The complaint alleges that reform-minded superintendent Paul Vallas and the district violated state law that requires school officials to gather input from local communities, parents and teachers, the Hartford Courant reports.
School governance councils, created by the state in 2010 to give residents an opportunity for input, have been particularly ignored, according to union officials.
“The beneficial purpose of School Governance Councils has been largely ignored by the Bridgeport Public Schools and superintendent Vallas,” Bridgeport Education Association President Gary Peluchette told the new site.
The BEA is a local affiliate of the CEA.
Vallas didn’t seem terribly concerned about the complaint.
“We are really busy and we don’t have time to deal with this type of nonsense because that’s what it is,” Vallas told the Courant. “No one has reached out more than my team – to parents, the teachers, faith-based organizations, even the non-teachers.”
Specifically, the CEA complaint alleges the school governance councils were not given enough time to review fiscal objectives of draft budgets for some schools, and were not involved in the hiring of administrators or analyzing achievement data.
“These are just some of the examples of the flagrant disregard Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Vallas has shown for School Governance Councils and state law,” CEA President Sheila Cohen said in a statement, according to the news site.
Those are some pretty strong words for relatively mild allegations. Does state law require school governance councils to review draft budget language? Who cares?
It seems obvious the real issue is the conflict between the CEA’s aversion to education reforms, and the superintendent’s focus on the subject. By streamlining the reform process, and not sucking up to the unions, Vallas incurred the wrath of district employees.
“I’m really dealing with some serious reform issues,” Vallas told the Courant.
The news site reports state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor recommended Vallas as a candidate for superintendent to turn around Bridgeport schools, and he was hired in 2011. Pryor allegedly worked with Vallas in Haiti to rebuild the country’s school system after the 2010 earthquake, so he should have a good sense of the man’s character.
Pryor’s office received the CEA’s complaint last week and has 10 days to dismiss it or order an investigation. While we certainly hope Pryor carefully weighs the merits of the union’s allegations, we suspect the issue is mostly a smokescreen to hide the union’s distaste for reform and Vallas.