When Steve Perry, who serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School Principal and is a full-time Hartford employee, submitted his application to the New York Board of Regents to open a new charter school in Harlem that would be owned and operated by his private charter school management company, Perry not only claimed that he controlled Hartford’s public school but that his business plan included receiving significant income from running Hartford’s Capital Prep.
The New York Board of Regents requires applicants to provide a corporate financial plan to ensure potential charter school operators have the financial resources to maintain their commitments concerning proposed new charter schools.
As part of his application to the New York Board of Regents for the proposed Harlem Capital Prep Charter School, Perry wrote;
“FINANCIAL PLAN – Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”
But of course, Perry’s private company has no contract to manage Capital Prep, let alone collect “excess management fees” from the Hartford Board of Education.
According to various sources knowledgeable about Perry’s backroom deals, when Hartford’s superintendent baulked at the notion of handing Capital Prep over to Perry’s private company, Perry proposed that he would “manage” Hartford ‘s Capital Prep for a token $1 a year.
If Perry’s offer was genuine and he intended to forgo the millions in management fees that he originally reported for running Hartford’s Capital Prep, then he was in direct violation of the plan he submitted to the New York Board of Regents.
Yet there is no evidence that he ever informed the New York Board of Regents that the financial plan he has submitted with his official application was no longer valid.
Alternatively, the $1 a year offer was nothing but a ruse and Perry still intended to collect millions of dollars from Hartford in the form of management fees and/or salaries for members of his company. Nine of the ten top members of his private charter school management company are full-time administrators and teachers at Capital Prep Magnet School, making them full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.
Regardless of whether Perry was lying to the New York Board of Regents, earlier this week, Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez issued a letter to “Parents, Guardians and the staff of Capital Preparatory School that Principal Perry would be leaving at the end of the school year and a new Capital Prep principal would be selected utilizing Hartford Board of Education procedures and policies.
However, less than forty-eight hours later, Steve Perry had his own announcement for Capital Prep parents informing them that he and Hartford’s superintendent had developed a plan that, “will establish “sister schools” between Capital Prep and our new schools,” and that Perry himself would be playing a primary role in the selection of Capital Prep Magnet School’s new principal
Perry added in his letter to parents that his strategy “will ensure that students, parents and staff from each of the schools can collaborate for the betterment of all children. Together we will create the professional learning community that so many of us wanted.”
Perry’s announcement is silent on the financial deal between Perry’s private company and the Hartford Board of Education.
However, the charter school application approved by the New York Board of Regents continues to be based on Perry collecting millions of dollars in management fees from all three of “his schools,” which he lists as Hartford’s Capital Prep and his proposed charter schools in Bridgeport and Harlem Charter schools.
While Perry presents the situation as a “done deal,” it is extremely unclear as to what authority Hartford’s superintendent of schools would have to cut such a deal with Perry and why the Hartford Board of education has not been informed of Perry agreement with the superintendent nor has the board voted on this vague and inappropriate scheme.
The one thing that is clear is that Mr. Perry’s sworn application to the New York Board of Regents, an application that the Regents used to approve his plan to open a charter school in Harlem, claims that Perry controls and will continue to control Hartford’s public school.
Perry’s New York application states,
“CPS [Perry’s private charter school management company] is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools.”
“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students.”
“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”
Rather than investigate and confront the serious legal and financial issues raised by Mr. Perry’s claims, with this supposed agreement in place the Hartford Superintendent and Board of Education appear to have thrown in their lot with Perry , thus becoming co-conspirators in an effort to walk away from their fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens of Hartford and Connecticut.