It would be a blow to the city of Bridgeport's school system and its 21,000 students if Paul Vallas is not permitted to stay on as superintendent. Someone of Mr. Vallas' experience and gravitas is just what the doctor ordered for the city's ailing school system.
That's why he was brought to Bridgeport some 17 months ago. He has the support of a majority of the school board. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy strongly supports his superintendency, as does state Education Commission Stefan Pryor. State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, House chairman of the General Assembly's education committee, says Mr. Vallas is "the most activist, engaged, effective superintendent that Bridgeport public schools have had in years."
Even the U.S. education secretary, Arne Duncan, is a fan. The opposition Mr. Vallas is facing is "beyond ludicrous," he told The New York Times.
Yet Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled last month that Mr. Vallas is not qualified to run Bridgeport's low-performing schools because he fails to meet the requirements in state law to be certified as superintendent by the State Board of Education. "The court orders Paul Vallas be removed from his office," Judge Bellis ruled.
Mr. Vallas is appealing the decision; the state Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case in September. The court should allow the Bridgeport superintendent to stay on the job for as long as it takes him to be vindicated or until he has exhausted his appeals. This is not the time for another superintendent search committee to be formed.
Mr. Vallas may not meet every certification requirement to the letter. But in the larger sense, to say that he is unqualified or ineligible to be superintendent in Bridgeport is a bad joke.
The experienced administrator has served 15 years in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans school districts. This record doesn't qualify him to run Bridgeport's schools?
Connecticut has always made it hard on outsiders to take superintendent positions. It is a parochial instinct.
The state's overly strict certification requirements should be waived by the State Board of Education for someone of Mr. Vallas' impressive experience, or at the very least he should be given plenty of time to meet them.
For example, one requirement is attainment of 30 credits in courses related to becoming a superintendent. Those can't be compiled overnight.
Mr. Vallas' promising appointment shouldn't be strangled in red tape.