Vallas Tries to Have it Both Ways on Job Status

Quinn’s running mate wants to keep job as Bridgeport superintendent until March 1

If there’s one thing you can say for Paul Vallas, he can certainly multi-task.

If there’s another, it’s that he—or his campaign for Lt. Governor of Illinois—likes to try and have it both ways at the same time.

On Monday, it was reported that Vallas, Gov. Pat Quinn’s running mate, plans to keep his previous job as Bridgeport, CT., school superintendent until March 1—17 days before the Illinois primary election.

Vallas became the $229,000-a-year superintendent of Bridgeport’s troubled school system in 2011. To say his tenure there was rocky may be a bit of an understatement, considering that his stay was dogged by controversy and questions over his fitness for the job, effectiveness and management style.

In fact, so fierce was the opposition to his stay in Bridgeport a number of education advocates engineered successive electoral victories for Vallas opponents to the Bridgeport school board, and were expected to oust him from his position had he not taken Gov. Quinn’s call.

But that’s not how Vallas chooses to see it—at least not for Illinois voters. When asked why he wants to stay on, his spokesperson said it was for the good of the students and school system he used to oversee.

Vallas has continued to work in Bridgeport because “he does not want to leave the Bridgeport school system in the lurch,” says Steven Ecker, an attorney for Vallas in Connecticut. “If he had done nothing and they wanted to fire him, he would have gotten a big payday.”

Vallas announced on Nov. 8 that he was resigning to run for lieutenant governor in Illinois. His contract required a 60-day notice, which the school board expected to start with a Nov. 9 letter announcing his resignation.

Since then, however, he’s changed his story, first saying the 60-day window could start n Dec. 9 and then two weeks later saying he would like to depart "as soon as possible."

Now he wants his official employment to last until March. The reason? He wants Bridgeport to continue paying for his personal health insurance:

At issue is a request by Vallas for health insurance coverage through June. Steven Nemerovski, Vallas' attorney, said his client may be willing to end his employment earlier in exchange for an extension of his health insurance benefits, according to board attorneys.

Board Chairwoman Sauda Baraka, who is standing by the Feb. 7 date, called the request a "stick-up" in an email to board attorney Donald Houston.

So there you have it. In Illinois, Vallas is a tireless education advocate who only wants what’s best for the students and administrators of Bridgeport’s school system.

Behind closed doors in Connecticut, however, Vallas seems to be mostly concerned with what’s best for him personally.

Remind me again: Isn't Pat Quinn supposed to be a man of the people who chose Vallas because he had a “servant’s heart”?

Oh, well. I guess even a servant’s heart needs someone else to help cover their insurance bills.

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