The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train

Many of Connecticut’s public schools remaining significantly underfunded but for those looking for a case study about the growing privatization of public education in America need only look as far as Connecticut and the tenure of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.

Call it the Jumoke Academy Charter School Case Study.

First there as was a Charter School called Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, Jumoke Academy refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.  While proponents of charter schools promised they would help reduce racial isolation, Jumoke Academy, like every other urban charter school was actually more racially isolated than the surrounding community.

And then, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his band of corporate education reform industry allies used Malloy’s new “education reform” law to take over the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and give it to Jumoke Academy using a no-bid management contract.  The new entity is called Jumoke at Milner.

Jumoke was given the management contract to run Milner despite the fact that approximately 40 percent of Milner’s students faced English language barriers or went home to households that didn’t  use English as their primary language AND JUMOKE HADN’T HAD A NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING STUDENT IN ITS SIX-YEAR HISTORY.

In addition, as a direct result of Jumoke’s policies, the charter school company had virtually no experience with students who required special education services.

But those problems didn’t stop the Malloy administration from handing over control of a public school to a private corporation.

Jumoke immediately got rid of the vast majority of the teachers who were part of the Milner School community.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%

 

Soon after Malloy’s Commissioner of Education brought in the private company to run Milner Elementary School, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Jumoke Academy , Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc.  He named himself Chief Executive Officer of Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. as well.

And the following year, despite no data about the level of success at Jumoke at Milner, Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was given a no-bid contract to run the Dunbar School in Bridgeport.  The decision to hand over the Dunbar School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was made by Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent” Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales, Jr. who was then serving as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and had previously served as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.

Moales has been saddled with significant legal and financial troubles and has been facing a foreclosure lawsuit that seeks to take his church and all of its properties and assets including the house in which Moales lives, as well as, his Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes Benz.

Interestingly, soon after the deal went down giving Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.), the Hartford attorney who set up and represents Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) became Moales’ lawyer.

In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) to serve as a member of the State Board of Education and the General Assembly approved the nomination.  Comer promised not to use her position to further the interests of FUSE, the company she serves as its COO.

But Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) is back, yet again.

This week the State Department of Education will start holding hearings on new charter school applications.  One application for a new charter school comes from New Haven where the school would be called the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ACADEMY.

But as the application explains in one of its initial footnotes, “FUSE is the management organization hired by BTWA to oversee the daily operations of the Academy.  That is, while the schools is called the Booker T. Washington Academy, the public funds will actually flow to the private company known as Jumoke (FUSE Inc.).

As the next footnote goes on to explain, “At the beginning of each school year parents and scholars will receive a handbook that includes behavioral expectations and provides school procedures and policies. All documents labeled Jumoke Academy are attached as a representative model of FUSE drafted documents that will be adapted for the Academy.”

The proponents of this charter school application couldn’t even be bothered to paste the name of the school over the Jumoke Academy name.

What is clear is that FUSE Inc is the charter school management company that Jumoke Academy set up to divert tens of millions of public dollars away from Connecticut’s public schools and into its coffers.

What isn’t so clear is that while Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) suggests that its sole focus is on Connecticut, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) corporate executives have been hard at work ramping up their charter school gravy train well beyond the borders of the state..

With little fanfare and no publicity, late last year, FUSE managed to pick up a lucrative contract to take over Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Dalton Elementary School.

As the Advocate Newspaper of Baton Rouge reported last October,

“Some uninvited guests, including a member of the state education board, were allowed at the last minute Monday morning to sit in on presentations by charter school groups seeking space in public schools in north Baton Rouge, thereby averting a potential fight.

Carolyn Hill, who represents the area as part of the 8th District for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was not happy she had not been invited, calling it “disrespectful.”

“We need people who reside in this area to be at the table,” Hill said.

Leaders of the Recovery School District organized the meetings, originally invitation-only, as that state agency decides which groups will land space in the seven schools RSD runs in north Baton Rouge.

Representatives from three charter management groups gave presentations on their school plans…The three groups that presented Monday were Family Urban Schools of Excellence, of Connecticut…”

Despite their lack of a track record beyond their original charter school and the new no-bid contracts they picked up from the Malloy administration, FUSE Inc. went on to capture one of the contracts from the Louisiana Recovery School District.  

The Louisiana Recovery School District is the entity that Paul Vallas ran for six years.  And, in the “small-world” department, Paul Vallas, of course, was the key player, along with Stefan Pryor, who decided to hand Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School over to FUSE, Inc.

While the public hearings are yet to be held on the New Haven Booker T. Washington Charter School, knowing their uncanny record of success with Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and the Corporate Education Reform Industry, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) executives must be salivating at the prospect that they will soon be tapping into tens of millions of dollars of additional Connecticut taxpayer funds.

  • buygoldandprosper

    People are sick of this administration. Their on-the-job training period ended a long time ago.

    Playing fast and loose worked for Dan in Stamford. He had many family members looking out for the family interests. But it has proven problematic on the state wide level, to say the least.

    “Connecticut’s population is estimated to have increased by 4,315 people during the past year, ranking the state 45th in the nation in population growth , according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates program.
    Only New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont added fewer residents. Maine and West Virginia were the only states in the U.S. to lose population, by 199 and 2,376 respectively. Connecticut’s population drop was one-tenth of one percent.”
    Those who can are leaving this state. Those who can avoid it, do so.
    The rest of us have a choice to make…ANYONE BUT MALLOY.

  • newhavenpublic

    Please come and speak out against this charter on Thursday night. We especially need voices of who know Jumoke or FUSE in Bridgeport or Hartford. Help stop the manipulation and oppression!

    Varick Memorial AME Zion Church will hold the charter for this school. Would this make it Connecticut’s first religious charter school?

    Here are the details. Let’s make some noise from 6-8 on Thursday night in New Haven!

    “Booker T. Washington Academy, New Haven, Connecticut
    A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 13, 2014 at the Metropolitan Business Academy, located at 115 Water St. in New Haven. The hearing will provide an opportunity for the general public to comment and submit written testimony on the school’s application. The hearing will take place from 6-8 p.m. Speakers will be limited to three minutes and called in the order in which they sign up at the public hearing.”

    From:
    http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2681&q=320438

    • Castles Burning

      I wish you well.

      Am I remembering correctly that many of the Dunbar/Jumoke teachers left early in the year? Sorry that I do not have time to do the research to confirm. If so, hopefully, some have or will be reading this plea.

    • Mary Gallucci

      What happened to the separation of church and state? or church and school?
      When Pryor first rolled out his Commissioner’s Network in early 2013, with 7 schools applying (or being forced by Special Masters to apply), the ONE and ONLY model presented to the quavering Turnaround Teams was the Jumoke/FUSE model–with none other than Michael Sharpe and Andrea Comer presiding. The Commissioner’s Network is the Charter School Network.
      It’s time to De-FUSE the Family Urban Schools of Excellence (that name doesn’t even make sense) so they will stop conFUSing the public. ReFUSE and DeFUSE the FUSE!

    • Tom Burns

      Thanks–got it–

  • cindy

    The reformers are getting greedy. They want the whole state and will come shout down the parents who complain:

    “Led by business-backed education reform group ConnCAN, some advocates are now speaking out in support of the standards. Stakeholders – including school principals, superintendents, and representatives from ConnCAN, the CBIA, and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform – will hold a press conference Wednesday to back the standards.”

    http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/ed-reform-advocates-to-rally-in-support-of-common-core/

  • Castles Burning

    Jonathan, I am always impressed with your research, but tonight I had to stop reading and copy below when I came to this “tidbit”:

    Interestingly, soon after the deal went down giving Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.), the Hartford attorney who set up and represents Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) became Moales’ lawyer.

    YOU ARE GOOD. Thank you.

  • Tom Burns

    Not coming to New Haven – we don’t need that kind of help–and certainly don’t need the cost–We have PUBLIC SCHOOLS in New Haven and we reject any more Charters–don’t even try–Tom
    Can someone tell me when those hearings are coming up – when and where–Thanks

  • Frustrated Educator

    I can not stand FUSE and everything they represent. I work at one of the public schools that they “manage” and all they actually “manage” to do is make things worse. They are in this for the money and honestly do not care about the students they claim to be helping!! I am sickened by how corrupt they are.