From Linda Hall, Connecticut resident:

The latest from the CT Mirror:

In April, the state board approved an independent study created for Vallas by the University of Connecticut as a valid program. But the judge said Friday that the short, independent study he completed in May at UConn was merely a simultation.

“There is no doubt that Vallas received preferential treatment,” the judge wrote in her 27-page decision.

Vallas is in his 17th month of leading the 21,000-student school system.

The judge also noted that Vallas lacked the required prerequisites to enroll in the regular UConn program in the first place, and that such an independent study hadn’t been approved for anyone else in the last decade. Additionally, the university’s governing board had never approved an independent study program.

“Ultimately, the course standards were reduced,” the judge wrote. “The court accepts Vallas’ testimony that the work, although done over the course of 10 weeks while fulfilling his employment as acting superintendent, could have been completed in a week.”

The judge also ruled that Pryor, the state’s education commissioner, improperly waived the certification requirements.

“The evidence submitted at trial established that Pryor did not adequately vet Vallas when evaluating whether he was ‘exceptionally qualified’ because Pryor was unable to provide specific details of that process in his testimony,” the judge wrote.

It is unclear what the ruling means for Vallas’ three-year contract with the Bridgeport school board. Vallas, who is being paid $234,000 a year, has led the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans school systems.

Carmen Lopez, a Bridgeport resident and former judge who filed the lawsuit, called the decision a “triumph.”

“We are still a nation of laws, and not of men, which I am sure comes as a shock to Paul Vallas and Stefan Pryor. The message of this decision is simple — no one is above the law,” she said.

“Fortunately, when the executive branch is arrogant and unresponsive, citizens can still have redress in the courts in order to check unrestrained abuses of power,” Lopez said.

This is the second time in the last two school years that the state’s involvement in the governance of a school district has been overturned by a judge. After the state ousted the former, locally elected Bridgeport Board of Education, the state Supreme Court ruled that that takeover was illegal because the proper steps were not followed.