The lawyer who won a Supreme Court case about a year ago overturning the state's appointment of members to the Bridgeport Board of Education has filed another lawsuit, this one aimed at ousting the district's superintendent of schools.
The lawsuitclaims that Paul Vallas is not properly certified for the superintendent's position.
"The Legislature has determined that the superintendent must meet certain requirements," Pattis said. "Bridgeport has been winking at them for a year now and Mr. Vallas thinks he deserves the wink. Bridgeport parents want to know why the rule of law isn't good enough for their kids."
A law that became effective in July 2012 says that a local board "may appoint a person who is or is not properly certified for a probationary period, not to exceed one school year, with the approval of the Commissioner of Education."
The law says that an acting superintendent must "successfully complete a school leadership program, approved by the state Board of Education" during the probationary period.
The lawsuit says Vallas already has served for more than a year without attaining the needed certification to become a superintendent. It names the Bridgeport Board of Education, Vallas and State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor as defendants.
Bridgeport School Board Chairman Kenneth Moales Jr. said, "Mr. Vallas is over-qualified and the truth of the matter, he was coming in only for a year to help out the district ... but what is going on in the district is so horrific, we put a demand on Mr. Vallas to stay.
"For the first time in almost 35 or 40 years, our district has hope."
Moales said Vallas is "presently in school getting the additional certification required for the state of Connecticut." Moales also raised questions about whether too much significance has been placed on certification.
"Let it be known that prior to Vallas, every single superintendent was certified and look at the data, look how bad our district is," Moales said.
Vallas could not be reached for comment.
State Board of Education chairman Allan Taylor declined to comment about the lawsuit.
Lopez said Vallas' contract "violates at least our understanding of what the statute says. ... The point is we can't have one rule for every other superintendent and then a rule for Mr. Vallas.
"The idea is that no one is above the law."
Vallas was hired in December 2011 by the Bridgeport Board of Education with the assignment to turn around the poorly performing school system and close a budget gap of about $18 million.
His original commitment was for one year. On March 4, however, the board of education approved a three-year contract for Vallas with an annual salary of $234,000.
"He was not then, nor is he now properly certified for the job," the lawsuit says. "... he has been granted what amounts to a second one-year probationary period in violation of state law."
Vallas has recently enrolled in a leadership program at the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education, but the lawsuit says there is no evidence that the program has been approved by the state Board of Education.
Interviewed a couple of weeks ago, Pryor said he was pleased to hear that Vallas' contract had been extended.
"I'm grateful that Superintendent Vallas is expressing a willingness and enthusiasm for advancing his reforms further," Pryor said.
Vallas has a national reputation as an education reformer, having served as head of school systems in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans over a period of more than 20 years.
Bridgeport's board of education asked Vallas for his advice in December 2011 -- on the recommendation of Pryor -- and then wound up hiring him.
The school board voted narrowly 5-4 to approve Vallas' new three-year contract.
At least two of the dissenters, Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka, have said strongly that they believe the contract is illegal.