FUSE re-lights Connecticut’s Charter School Scandals

Before the Hartford Courant revealed that the CEO of the FUSE/Jumoke Charter School Chain wasn’t the “Dr.” he claimed to be and had served time in prison for embezzling money from a public agency in California, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration had given the man formerly known as “Dr.” Michael Sharpe and his company, FUSE/Jumoke Academy, lucrative “no-bid” contracts to run neighborhood schools in Hartford and Bridgeport, as well as granting him approval to open a new charter school in New Haven.

All that largess came on top of the $53 million that Sharpe and his company had already collected in taxpayer funds to pay for the Jumoke Academy, a charter school in Hartford.

As Sharpe’s sordid past came to light, the Jumoke/FUSE charter school management company collapsed and Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor (aka the fox guarding the hen house) put the charter school management company on probation and ordered an investigation.

Interestingly Pryor and the State Board of Education’s action was aimed solely at the “FUSE” portion of the charter school management organization as the charter for the Jumoke Academy was left untouched.  In his capacity as CEO of the Jumoke Academy it was Sharpe who once told a legislative panel that reason the charter school had virtually no special education students was because they had a special program that went into their kindergarten classes and cured the students of their special education needs.  [But even statements like that didn’t stop the Malloy administration from pouring even more money into the charter school.]

Now, months after the investigation was called for, an incredibly damning report has been made public.

But in a typical move designed to limit political fallout and protect the guilty, Governor Malloy’s State Department of Education failed to release the stunning report until late in the afternoon on Friday, January 2, 2015.

The Hartford Courant, which has led the investigative work on FUSE/Jumoke didn’t get a full news report up until 8 p.m. and the CT Post, another media outlet that has followed the story, produced their updated report after 10:30 p.m.

Oh, and try as you might, you won’t even find the press release or the report listed on the Department of Education’s “Media Page.”

But you can get the news via the Hartford Courant’s piece entitled, “Probe Of Charter School Group Blasts ‘Suspect’ Conduct, ‘Rampant Nepotism.’”

Also, the CT Post stories can be found at, “State releases investigative report on FUSE/Jumoke,” and “State report details problems with FUSE management.”

The CT Post has also provided a link to the actual report: http://blog.ctnews.com/education/files/2015/01/Jumoke-FUSE-Invest-2014-2.pdf

And Diane Ravitch has quickly produced an excellent summary of the issues at,Connecticut: State Investigation Finds Rampant Nepotism and Lack of Oversight at Charter Chain.”

There will be much more about this report in the coming days, but the facts reveal the complete lack of oversight of charter schools in Connecticut and the way the report was released provides a firsthand look at the Malloy administration’s dedication to keeping citizens from knowing just how bad the situation is and how much of the people’s tax dollars are being wasted by these privately-run, publicly-funded charter school companies.

  • Linda174

    Read all comments here, WOW…..when will Alan Taylor be asked to resign…accountability for all boys.

    http://dianeravitch.net/2015/01/03/connecticut-state-investigation-finds-rampant-nepotism-at-charter-chain/

  • Linda174

    Here’s a few

  • Linda174

    One more

  • Mary Gallucci

    Many concerned people–parents, bloggers, writers–have been asking questions about Michael Sharpe and FUSE–see the numerous posts on this blog, for a start.
    When Stefan Pryor, the (thankfully) out-going CT State ed commissioner, was ramping up his reform initiatives, such as the state Turnaround Office and the Commissioner’s Network, he showcased Michael Sharpe and the “Jumoke” model. This emboldened Sharpe to create his FUSE corporation–along with the Northeast Charter School Network. Pryor had Michael Sharpe present his “Jumoke model” to all the schools forced into the Commissioner’s Network, such as Windham, CT and Bridgeport. Thus, at the roll-out workshop for participating districts, Michael Sharpe was the star, along with his employee, Andrea Comer–who was immediately nominated to be placed on the State Board of Education. Could there be any more blatant proof that not only Pryor, but the State Board of Education, the legislature, and the governor, threw their full support behind Michael Sharpe and Jumoke, a man they called doctor and a “model” they hailed as exemplary?
    Stefan Pryor has a nerve pretending to scold Sharpe. No one enabled Michael Sharpe more than the Commissioner, the SBE, and Stephen Adamowski, the ex-Superintendent/CEO of Hartford schools who allotted Sharpe so much autonomy.

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  • Mary Gallucci

    Of course, thanks to the partnership with Michael Sharpe, Eldren Morrison of the Varick Zion church in New Haven got permission to open a charter school–the Booker T. Washington Academy (now paying rent to Achievement First, another charter school). The application for BTWA was deemed the strongest received by the SBE–*because* of the partnership with FUSE!!! When the FBI began investigating, and Sharpe’s doctorate was exposed as a fraud, Morrison and his supporters quickly dumped FUSE but were still allowed to open a charter school.
    The Booker T. Washington Academy, which seems to be running out of money, will need to find a revenue stream to pay for the lawsuit brought by FUSE; check out their minutes from an October meeting:
    Dr. Howard [the CFO] is not getting timely information from the Community Foundation.
    Board needs Donation Application or Letters from donors. There is a donor requirement.
    The budget is over by $ 46,000. Where do we pull to cover loss?
    The money coming in is to cover allocated costs and we are still waiting on $300,000.
    **Attorney fees for BTWA v. FUSE can not be paid for with DOE, Public Square or PBLC funds.**
    Bouncer is about tapped out.
    The T shirt money did not make it to the bank. A report is needed on the missing money.
    Based on the spending habits of the organization, we will be tapped out by April 2015.
    (what’s with the lost Tee shirt money??? and what’s Bouncer?)

    http://btwanewhaven.org/board-of-directors-meeting-schedule/

    • Mary Gallucci

      Just to remind all the attentive readers–Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor’s Achievement First franchise had a lease on a former parochial school in New Haven–but, after some major building campaigns, they no longer needed the building on Green street. So along comes the Booker T. charter–having lost their “Lead Partner,” FUSE, the state still let them go ahead with a school. Next thing you know, Booker T. is spending state money to pay Achievement First for a sublease on a building Achievement First was still under lease for… Nice how that works, isn’t it? OH, and Dacia Toll’s husband Jeff Klaus “recommended” the Booker T. Washington charter application–especially because of the partnership with Michael Sharpe, a charter school operator Klaus singled out for praise… Needless to say, Booker T. uses Webster Bank for all their banking needs–and Jeff Klaus is Webster’s VP or pres or something.

      • Linda174

        Here Klaus professes his love for fake Dr. Sharpe

        • Mary Gallucci

          Brilliant! How Klaus gushes! He knows “DR” Michael Sharpe personally yet he didn’t know that the doctorate was phony… I guess it doesn’t matter to Klaus or to his wife Dacia Toll–their children will never go to a school run by Sharpe–or to a segregated test-prep factory such as Achievement First.
          Klaus champions “high quality choice” in urban districts–is that what he calls the FUSE/Jumoke/Dunbar/Milner model? Klaus also lauds both Sharpe and Morrison for their commitment to [sic] ” character programming”! yeah, it’s just a bunch of poor children of color, program away. Oh, and send that state-backed rent check to the Dacia Toll/Achievement First elementary school indoctrination fund care of Webster Bank.

        • Charlie Puffers

          Seems like the boss of Mr. Klaus should have a copy of this letter doesn’t it?

  • Linda174
  • Mary Gallucci

    Let’s not forget what the State Department of Education said about FUSE last spring:
    The CSDE recommends BTWA for approval because it is the highest scoring applicant of the applicants proposing to open in 2014-15, and has earned the broadest and strongest local public support for its proposed school. The recommendation is based on aggregate evaluation data generated during the application process, considering the following key elements: (1)the quality of the proposed program as measured against the criteria contained in the charter school application; (2) the substantive issues surrounding the overall feasibility and reasonableness of the application in terms of the likelihood of the opening and operation of a successful, high quality public school; (3) the degree of public support for the proposed school; and (4) the CSDE’s recommendation that the SBE give preference to the applicant due to its commitment to: (a) serving students who receive free or reduced price lunch; (b) partnering with FamilyUrban Schools of Excellence, Inc., an organization with a record of operating high-quality public schools in Connecticut; (c) serving students from the Dixwell/Newhallville community, an underserved, high-need area of New Haven; and (d) operating in New Haven, a Priority School District.
    For additional information on BTWA,
    please see attachment B

  • Castles Burning

    May these facts, many of which have been reported here, enable some body with authority to stop the “charterization” that has been approved but not yet finalized. The way in which the report was released does not bode well, but let us hope . . .

  • Linda174

    Here is “Dr.” Sharpe listed on the ConnCon advisory board:

    • Mary Gallucci

      Jeff Klaus and Rev. Eldren Morrison, too! And Jennifer Alexander wrote a glowing letter of support for Booker T. Washington charter school, again–due to its partnership with the miraculous Michael Sharpe!

      • WEP

        More than nepotism: incest!

  • jrp1900

    While the report is devastatingly critical of Michael Sharpe and FUSE there is an element of unfairness about it. Attorney Dorsey persuasively demonstrates that Mr. Sharpe was a grifting his way to wealth and status, but he is strangely silent on the prominent role played by Stefan Pryor in advancing (the ethically-challenged) Mr. Sharpe so that he might perform his questionable shenanigans.

    In fact, one has to have a little sympathy for the devil: Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education were so determined to put more charter schools under the management of FUSE it was as if they put irresistible temptation in Mr. Sharpe’s way. I mean you don’t make a recovering drug addict the head of a pharmacy, and nor should you give a convicted embezzler a free run with public monies. Whoops! Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education were unaware of Mr. Sharpe’s felony conviction. They did not know anything about him. But still they gave him some schools and a ton of money to work with! Now what does this say about them?

    Attorney Dorsey was probably not ready to bite the hand that feeds him, but someone ought to ask: how come the State oversight people had no idea what was going on at FUSE/Jumoke? Jon Pelto reports that Jumoke has been the recipient of 53 million dollars. Perhaps it’s just me, but that seems like quite a bit of money to give to people you know nothing about. I don’t know if Commissioner Pryor and his officers were working on the honor system, wherein they simply trusted Mr. Sharpe to do the right thing without any real accountability. If so, one is almost touched by the charming naivety of people entrusted with the public purse. Most of us have a jaded view of human nature. We understand that if you give people money without accountability, most often, they will take you for a ride.

    The FUSE/Jumoke scandal is NOT about one bad apple in the barrel. It is fundamentally about a flawed approach to school reform, wherein just about anybody can start a charter school just so long as they subscribe to the dogmas, about private markets, school choice, and evil teachers’ unions. Michael Sharpe figured out the game, but he wasn’t quite good enough to secure final victory. No doubt there are other players out there who have learned from Sharpe’s failures. This won’t be the last scandal we see in the unfolding of corporate school reform in the Nutmeg State.

    • Charlie Puffers

      While the lack of oversight in handing public money to a convicted felon is disgusting – what is truly despicable is that Mr. Sharpe was chosen to attempt to run Milner School. Millions of extra money was given to Sharpe when Milner became a “Commissioner’s Network” school. So Sharpe fired 95% of the staff and hired new teachers and 11 new administrators. Why does an elementary school need 11 administrators?

      What about the students of Milner? Why wasn’t the money spent enriching their learning opportunities by reducing class size or providing: wrap around services, field trips, art, music, PE, summer programs, extra assistance in every classroom, etc? How did these children benefit from the Commissioner taking over their “failing” school?

      What is the role of the Center for Children’s Advocacy in fighting for the children of Milner School? The gross negligence of Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Christina Kishimoto, Matthew Poland, Allan Taylor, Pedro Segara and Richard Wareing can no longer be overlooked.

      • jrp1900

        Charlie Puffers: Everything you say is true!

    • Sleepless in Bridgeport

      Yea…..like Dr. Steven Perry who may be the biggest grifter of them all at taxpayer expense. There may be decent charter schools somewhere in the world, but Connecticut under the leadership of Dannel Malloy, and the stewardship of Stephan Pryor have scraped the very bottom of the barrel in the names of their big buck donors. Pryor at the very least cannot run off to Rhode Island without assuming much of the blame, and Dannel is certainly culpable also. Where to now Connecticut? Who will Danny appoint as the next swinger of the public education wrecking ball? Adamowski? Paul Vallas? Kishimoto? One of the Hartford BOE rubber stampers? Stevie Perry? Andres Ayala and his entourage of relatives (After all he has a desk at the Bridgeport Adult Ed office with two inches of dust on top of it). May there is a sell out expert at the AFT or CEA (they are certainly available to the highest bidder).

      • R.L.

        “Dannel is certainly culpable also.” Culpability does not matter if there are no consequences. “We” had a chance to hold Malloy accountable for his actions. However, too many people,many of whom post here, were too AFRAID of the alternative. It remains to be seen just how much this has emboldened Malloy and his band of racketeers.

  • realsaramerica

    Governor Malloy appointed Andrea Comer, FUSE Chief Operating Officer, to the State Board of Education. COO responsibilities: http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/Chief-Operating-Officer-COO So are we seriously saying that NO ONE at the State Board or at State Dept of Ed or in Governor’s office had any idea that taxpayer dollars were being misused in this way? Either Ms. Comer wasn’t doing her job as COO (or she would have known what was going on at FUSE) or she wasn’t vetted properly by Malloy (follow the money, look at campaign contributions). In any event, the lack of due diligence on the part of the State Board of Ed and the State Department of Ed is astounding. Or it would be if we didn’t live in Corrupticut.

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