According to an internal audit and investigation conducted by the professional staff at the Connecticut Department of Education, Reverend Moales, Jr., along with his mother and sister, illegally or inappropriately billed the taxpayers of Connecticut for at least 75,000 in state child care subsidies for day care centers owned by the Moales family and located in buildings owned by Kenneth Moales Jr. and his church.
Moales is Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer, one of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s loudest Bridgeport supporters, and he spearheaded the failed effort to keep Paul Vallas on as the superintendent of schools in Bridgeport.
Moales’ role in the Bridgeport take-over fiasco goes back to when the Malloy administration appointed Kenneth Moales Jr. to Bridgeport’s illegal board of education, a board that was created when the state took over the Bridgeport School System. Malloy’s action and the illegal board were eventually struck down as illegal by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
However, thanks to Moales’ close relationship with Mayor Finch, Moales got on to the democratically elected board of education as one of Finch’s Democratic endorsed candidates and went on to serve as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education during the time period this daycare billing scandal was taking place.
As Wait What? readers may recall, Kenneth Moales and his extensive property holdings have been facing foreclosure proceeding for more than a year. Those buildings house daycare centers owned by Moales’ family.
As readers may also recall, in the summer of 2012, Moales and his family “won” a sweetheart deal for 60 of the 72 new day care slots that Bridgeport received under Governor Malloy’s state-wide “early childcare initiative.”
Although there were plenty of other providers in Bridgeport that could have utilized those new day care slots, the lucrative contract went to the two daycare centers run by Moales’ sister and mother. Not only are those facilities located in buildings owned by Moales’ church, but the daycare centers pay rent to Moales. The rental costs for the daycare centers have skyrocketed from $20,000 to over $100,000 in recent years.
When the Malloy initiative was announced, potential day care providers were required to guarantee that they would have the new day care slots available and filled no later than October 1, 2012.
However, according to official state documents that were recently acquired by Wait, What?, of the 1,000 new daycare spaces, as of February 1, 2013 – four months after the program began – only 950 of the 1,000 spots were being utilized. Of the 50 unfilled slots, 40 of them were allocated to Moales.
In addition, upon further investigation, the professional staff at the State Department of Education determined that Moales’ family had actually billed the state for students who were either not part of the state funded program or may not have even existed.
As a result of their over billing the state determined that more than $75,000 had been inappropriately paid to Moales’ family.
In a particularly bizarre move, the Connecticut State Department of Education’s initial finding was appealed by Paul Vallas, not by Moales family. The appeal came with Vallas was still running the Bridgeport School System.
On January 14, 2014, an official State Appeal Committee met and determined that the Moales family had, in fact, billed the state for services that they did not legally provide and that an amount of $75,114 had been inappropriately paid to Moales and his family.
One of the underlying issues is that while Moales and his family claimed that they had three day care sites available, only two were licensed. The third site, which was supposed to be located in Moales primary church building, could not be licensed due to a series of problems, not the least of which being that the church itself did not have a permanent certificate of occupancy.
According to the State Department of Public Health, the third site was eventually licensed on August 15, 2013, ten months after the Moales family had said they would have the room necessary to fulfill their contract.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that while the 3rd site was approved, it remains unclear whether Moales was ever able to acquire the permanent certificate of occupancy that is necessary in order to get a day care facility license.
The full set of state documents also highlight a series of extremely troubling concerns,
- In a July 31, 2013, months after the Moales family had already begun billing for the larger number of slots, the State Department of Education reported that, “The workflow for approving a new application still shows several pending and/or incomplete items (including the application fee, affidavit, property history form, building and zoning approvals, staff work schedule, organization chart, background checks, health consultant agreement, floor plan, outdoor play space sketch and water supply attachments/test).
Even more incredible is that the July 31, 2013 email also stated that, “A complete corrective action plan response is also outstanding from the initial inspection conducted on 2/28/13).
And what may be the most damning piece of evidence of all is that on February 25, 2013, when the Connecticut State Department of Education professional staff informed Moales’ sister that the state would be re-allocating the unused slots to another child center so that Bridgeport so that children could actually get the services they needed and deserved, Moales’ sister responded by writing,
“I forwarded this information to my boss. He asked me to make you aware that he has spoken to Stephon Pryor and our slots are filled and confirmed. We are simply waiting for licensing to come and inspect. The children are CONFIRMED and Bridgeport does not have to loose the slots.”
This email, along with a variety of others raise extraordinarily serious questions about whether Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, knowingly allowed the Moales family to have children in an unlicensed day care center and whether his lack of action allowed the Moales family to illegally or inappropriately bill the state for services that were not properly rendered.
All of these materials will be turned over to the State Auditors and other appropriate officials in the hope that an independent investigation will be conducted into Kenneth Moales Jr. and his day care operations and whether top officials in the Malloy administration were engaged in any efforts to cover up or protect their Bridgeport political allay.
Check back for more on this breaking story.