The State Board of Education on Monday decided they would not be meeting in private to discuss the Bridgeport leadership drama.

A judge last month ruled that Paul Vallas — the district’s superintendent — does not have the proper qualifications to run the district. In April, the state board approved an independent study created for Vallas to complete at the University of Connecticut. But the judge said that the short, independent study he completed at UConn was merely a simulation.

The state board is not a party in the lawsuit but the education department’s commissioner did testify in the case surrounding his involvement in recruiting Vallas to lead the state’s largest school district. The board had originally slated to meet behind closed doors for “consideration of action regarding” the case.

The move follows attorney Wendy Lecker and education blogger Jonathan Pelto writing state officials — including the state’s Freedom of Information Commission and State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor — on Friday questioning the legality of meeting in private on this matter.

State law allows the board to meet in private to go over “strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency or a member thereof, because of the member’s conduct as a member of such agency, is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.”

Taylor, the chair of the state board, said that he believes the board has the legal authority to meet in private over the matter but since there is no action the board was planning to discuss, he pulled the item from the agenda.

Instead the board unanimously voted approving a resolution that calls for a the state’s attorney general to “take such steps as he deems appropriate and necessary to present the board Board’s and Commissioner’s concerns with the court’s determinations.”

“The trial court stepped into a role that is confided in this board by statute in ruling as it did. Thats a legal argument that will presented on our behalf,” Taylor said before the vote.

In the meantime, Taylor said the state Supreme Court should provide a stay of the decision that forces Vallas to leave office immediately. 

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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