Will Bridgeport learn from the Michael Sharpe and Jumoke/FUSE disaster?

As more and more facts come out about Michael Sharpe, the CEO of the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School Management company, parents, public school advocates and the taxpayers of Bridgeport and Connecticut are turning their attention to the decision by Paul Vallas and former Bridgeport Board of Education, Chairman Kenneth Moales, Jr. to hand over Bridgeport’s Dunbar School, its students, staff, parents and millions of dollars in public funds to the disgraced charter school fraud.

In the fall of 2012, thanks to the intervention of the Malloy administration, Michael Sharpe and the Jumoke/FUSE company won a no-bid contract to run the Milner School in Hartford.  The following year, Jumoke/FUSE won a no-bid contract to run the Dunbar School in Bridgeport and this year, Sharpe and his company received permission to open a new charter school in New Haven.

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, his Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education are all claiming that they didn’t know that Dr. Michael Sharpe wasn’t a “Dr.” or that he served approximately five years in prison for embezzlement and tax fraud when he lived in California.

In Bridgeport, the Dunbar School was handed over to Sharpe through a backroom deal that included education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas and Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr., the Malloy and Finch ally who was then serving as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education when the lucrative contract was given to Sharpe.

Just last week the Hartford Board of Education announced they were severing their relationship with Sharpe and Jumoke/Fuse due to fact that Jumoke/FUSE was failing to properly educate the children of the Milner School as required under their Memorandum of Understanding.

Then, thanks to the outstanding investigative reporting of the Hartford Courant, we’ve learned that Sharpe is a fraud having faked his resume and served a lengthy prison sentence for embezzlement and tax evasion.

With the Bridgeport Board of Education meeting tonight, the eyes of the state are turning to Bridgeport to see whether they will stick with the backroom political deal or do what is right for the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Bridgeport and Connecticut.

Although the details remain murky, one thing is clear – the Dunbar School Deal would not have taken place without the assistance of Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales, Jr.

As readers know, Kenneth Moales is already an extremely controversial figure.  The man who served as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer has also been one of the most pivotal supporters of Governor Malloy in Bridgeport, the city that “gave” Malloy the margin he needed to beat Tom Foley by 6,200 votes in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Unable or unwilling to follow the law, Moales and his family have been running three daycare centers that illegally overcharged taxpayers and continue to put children in classrooms that do not meet the most basic requirements when it comes to having a permanent certificate of occupancy.

Wait, What? readers will recall that Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. received a temporary certificate of occupancy on July 23, 2013, shortly after the CT Post reported his church, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, had been operating illegally as early as 2011.

On July 23, 2013, the Chief Building Official emailed Andrew Nunn, Mayor Finch’s Chief Administrative Officer, stating “All outstanding items have been resolved and the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy has been issued effective today.”  Andrew Nunn responded by writing “Thank you. Please work on outstanding issues and a timetable for a full CO and report back to me.”  Those cc’d on the email include Mayor Finch’s Chief of Staff, Deputy Administrative Officer, Director of Economic Development, City Attorney, Fire Chief, Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications Director and the Chief Fire Marshall.

But a year later, Moales still hasn’t resolved “those outstanding issues” and doesn’t have a permanent certificate of occupancy, although he continues to collect on what is nearly a $1 million-a- year daycare grant from the Malloy administration.

Although Moales’ isn’t meeting his legal requirements, neither the Malloy administration nor the City of Bridgeport have stepped in to close down Moales’ daycare operation….even though it is inconceivable that any other daycare provider in the state would be allowed to stay open without a permanent certificate of occupancy.

What makes the Moales situation particularly relevant is that despite being Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Moales never briefed his fellow board members on the controversy engulfing his daycare operation – an operation that is almost exclusively paid for with state funds that go through the Bridgeport Board of Education.

And while Moales was able to fly under the State Department of Education’s rules on daycare programs, he was helping Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Pryor’s friend, Paul Vallas, give a multi-million dollar contract to Jumoke/FUSE’s CEO, Michael Sharpe, to run the Dunbar School.  Sharpe got the contract despite the fact that he and his company had no experience running a school outside of Hartford and was already running into problems with the Milner School in Hartford.

The action the Bridgeport Board of Education takes tonight will speak volumes about just how much power the Malloy administration has to divert scarce public resources to favored private companies or whether those days are coming to an end.

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

  • henryberry

    To say that Malloy seeks out ones for his administration and operatives who have no regard for the law may be gong too far. But there’s no doubt ones who have no regard for the law have found their way into the highest levels of the Malloy administration. It wasn’t long after I informed Malloy about criminal activity at the Pullman and Comley law firm responsible for widespread subversion of the public and private sectors of the Connecticut legal system that I read somewhere that Malloy had formed close ties with this law firm. If you want to understand the mounting financial and social problems of Connecticut, you want to understand the activities of Pullman and Comley in the area of state bonds and real estate. When I read about the scandals of Christie in NJ and Walker in WI, I see central aspects of the Malloy administration reflected in these. Especially, Christie’s ties with individuals at the NJ law firm Wolff and Samson are reflected in Malloy’s ties with the Pullman and Comley law firm, Yes, Christie and Walker are Republicans, and Malloy is a Democrat. But they’re two sides of the same coin. As I’ve written here before, what you get with Malloy is the Democratic version of the plutocratic state—and as I know in my case, bolstered in unimaginable and threatening ways by the state security agencies. More on this as the gubernatorial campaign proceeds.

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    Sad part is Bridgeport knows they have been fucked over time and time again and by god they (the teachers) have fought back. And the good citizens of Bridgeport who give a damn have told Finch and Vallas to get the hell out of the schools and go back to doling out jobs to their friends and driveways to their cronies. I think the title of this piece might be what can Malloy and Pryor learn from Bridgeport. As far as Holy Moly is concerned…..pardon me I just threw up!

  • buygoldandprosper

    Clown Prince of Connecticut, Danny Malloy, would appoint Tom Parker or Harland Sanders to lead his army (if he had one) as they were both “colonels”. One had a secret recipe and one deserted from the military.
    DOCTOR Sharpe had a secret recipe for success in Connecticut, as does Mail-Order-Moales and Steve-OJ-Perry.
    One can only wonder how stupid the voters are in this state…four more years for Danny will be an indication.
    As for frauds serving this current administration…birds of a feather, flock together.

    • buygoldandprosper

      COME ON!! Dr. Sharpe does not have to go.
      The Neag School can take care of his educational needs.

      • jonpelto

        Good one!

  • brutus2011

    When are folks going to get over their deference to the managerial class and rise up and say enough?

    These folks are not in the private sector slugging it out–they are profiting from the public trust and they are succeeding because we, the citizenry, are allowing it!

    And for every Sharpe and FUSE type of shenanigans there are tenfold that never get caught….sobering thought, eh?

  • jrp1900

    Michaels Sharpe is a disreputable person, but not because of the crimes he committed years ago. Sharpe served time and presumably paid his debt to society, so we can leave it at that. His questionable character is more directly related to his deliberate misrepresentation of his academic credentials and his dubious claims regarding the efficacy of “school reform” in the Jumoke model. Sharpe is an imposter, but the real problem is not Sharpe, but the political leaders who empowered him and enabled him at every turn. Chief malefactor in this regard is Stefan Pryor, the non-educator who wormed his way into the office of Education Commissioner. Stefan Pryor is clearly a one trick pony, with the dullest of minds. His answer to Connecticut’s education problems has been nothing more complex than increasing the number of charter schools across the state, but especially in poor districts. Mr. Pryor is a true believer in the corporate religion. He never saw a Charter School Management Company that he did not like. And he has seen fit to award charters to pathetic, unqualified incompetents like “Sir” Michael Sharpe and Dr. Steve Perry. I heard Sharpe speak on one occasion, and in about 2 minutes I knew he was a total fraud. But Stefan Pryor has treated him like the Moses of school reform, who will lead “his” people out of Egyptian captivity in the “terrible” public schools. Mr. Pryor should educate himself about what kind of people are in the world, and how it is a known fact that charlatans will congregate around the trough of public money. If Mr Pryor were being judged on his performance in his office, you would have to rate him a complete failure. I take joy in the departure of Michael Sharpe as CEO of FUSE, but true happiness will be mine when I see Stefan Pryor step down from his office. He has brought the office into disrepute and he has shown himself incapable of sound judgment.
    The Bridgeport deal with Jumoke was pure Pryor. It sums up everything that is wrong with the way he has made the SDE a forcing house for school privatization. Children in Bridgeport have real needs, but these are not on the mind of Commissioner Pryor: he is too busy meeting the needs of his cronies and accomplices in the school reform movement. So the fraudster Sharpe gets a school. The huckster Perry gets one as well. A shady character like the Rev (LOL) Moales is allowed to be power broker.

  • truthsayer

    Dannel and Pryor had no idea that Sharpe is a con man (with the
    emphasis on con). They’re telling us that they gave this man and his
    organization millions of taxpayer dollars and entrusted the very future
    of our children to this fraudster and never did a background check or
    checked hid resume or references? And how about Moales, like there
    aren’t enough red flags with this character? Now, I know that Dannel
    Machiavelli and Pryor aren’t stupid, I’ll give them the benefit of that
    doubt, so I can only conclude that they are crooked. After all, you are
    judged by the company you keep. We have to get rid of these bums.

  • optoutct

    sharpe isn’t the only fraud running around there’s one sitting in the white house too. talk about birds flocking together…hmmm…

    • R.L.

      There is one sitting in the White House now, and there was one before him and one before him and one before him…. Stop the madness. The democratic/republican mono-party serves the plutocrats and not the people. It’s time to change the paradigm of American politics. Vote the alternative.