“Mind Your Own Business”- The Connecticut Supreme Court Limits Challenges to Licensing and Certification Decisions by Public Agencies in Lopez v. Bridgeport Board of Education.

abcIn a much ballyhooed case, certain residents and taxpayers of the City of Bridgeport brought a “quo warranto” action in the courts, challenging the qualifications of the City’s Superintendent of Schools (Paul Vallas) to hold his position, due to a failure to have the appropriate certification for a Connecticut school superintendent.  Vallas came to the Bridgeport Public School District without the necessary certification to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut.  Ostensibly, Vallas (in the eyes of the State’s Commissioner of Education) qualified for a statutory exception to the usual requirements for superintendent certification by a completing a “school leadership program” via an independent study program through the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.

The trial court disagreed with the Commissioner of Education and found that Vallas had not completed a valid school leadership program (since the independent study course was not viewed by the trial court to be a valid “program”) and Vallas  thus was not entitled to the waiver of the certification requirements that he received from the Commissioner of Education.  The trial court ordered the removal of Vallas from his position.  On appeal, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the trial court by holding that the courts should not be used to attack a state administrative agency’s decision to issue a license certification or waiver the renders a public officer qualified to hold his or her position; specifically, the Commissioner’s determination to issue a waiver during the vetting process was owed discretion.  In addition, the Supreme Court noted that the taxpayers bringing this lawsuit should have exhausted the administrative remedies available to challenge Vallas’ qualifications, namely, the right to seek a declaratory ruling from the State of Connecticut Board of Education under Connecticut General Statutes §10-4b.

This decision should be viewed with some relief by public agencies concerned that licensing decisions concerning a public officer’s qualifications could be challenged willy-nilly in the courts.  In addition, this decision again reminds everyone that courts prefer that administrative agency procedures be exhausted before resort to the courts.

This blog/web site presents general information only. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and you should not consider or rely on it as such. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. This website is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information at this website. Neither our presentation of such information nor your receipt of it creates nor will create an attorney-client relationship with any reader of this blog. Any links from another site to the blog are beyond the control of Pullman & Comley, LLC and do not convey their approval, support or any relationship to any site or organization. Any description of a result obtained for a client in the past is not intended to be, and is not, a guarantee or promise the firm can or will achieve a similar outcome.

Subscribe to Updates

About Our Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law Blog

Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits practice on such workplace topics as labor and employment law, counseling and training, litigation, union issues, as well as employee benefits and ERISA matters.

Other Blogs by Pullman & Comley

Connecticut Health Law Blog

Education Law Notes

For What It May Be Worth

Recent Posts


Jump to Page