Union files complaint against Bridgeport’s superintendent

The state’s largest teachers’ union has filed a complaint against Bridgeport, the state’s largest school district, claiming the superintendent is shutting out teachers and parents from important decisions.

“The Board of Education of Bridgeport, through its superintent Paul Vallas, is not interested in following statutory mandates,” says the complaint filed Tuesday with the State Board of Education by the Connecticut Education Association. 

At issue are the limited role the unions say School Governance Councils are playing in helping to make budgetary, hiring and strategic plans for the 21,000-student district. The councils were created by state law three years ago as a way to ensure that parents and teachers played a role in improving schools.

Calling Vallas’s actions a “flagrant disregard” of state law, Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen said the important role these councils play at each school needs to be restored.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, who worked alongside Vallas in Haiti and Chile as those nations rebuilt school systems after devastating earthquakes, has 10 days to either dismiss the complaint, launch an investigation or request additional information and make a decision within 10 days after receiving that information, according to state regulations.

Pryor declined an interview request Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the department wrote in a statement, “We are in the process of reviewing the contents of the complaint filed today and will comment further as appropriate and feasible going forward.”

Vallas was not available for comment Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said that these complaints are “extremely rare” and the last complaint the union filed was more than a decade ago.