This is Part 1 of a series about Steve Perry and his ongoing effort to get public officials to help him build a financially lucrative charter school management company with taxpayer funds.
When the Hartford Board of Education rejected Steve Perry’s plan to transfer Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School and a nearby neighborhood elementary school over to his private charter school company last year, Perry took to Twitter saying;
Dr. Steve Perry@DrStevePerry
“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”
If anyone else had Tweeted a similar threat they would have certainly been detained and questioned by the police. But while Perry’s Tweet was covered by the Washington Post, Connecticut’s state and local officials simply looked the other way.
After all, Steve Perry is the one who describes himself as “America’s most trusted educator.”
But now Perry is maneuvering for a new deal that will prove far more lucrative.
For the record, Steve Perry is a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education and serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School, a public school located on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut.
In 2012 Perry created a Connecticut company called Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc.
For state registration purposes, Perry’s company is located at his residence in Middletown, Connecticut. However, when it comes to filing his corporation’s federal paperwork and tax forms, Perry has been using the address of the public school in which he works.
Almost three months ago Steve Perry’s PR operation issued a press release announcing, “Dr. Steve Perry, and the founders of what US News & World Reports has called one of America’s top high schools, are coming to Harlem.”
While Perry’s media team made it appear that Capital Prep Harlem Charter School was already a “done deal,” in reality Perry’s plan is one of 15 new charter school proposals that will be considered by the New York Board of Regents at its November 2014 meeting.
Steve Perry’s Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School application reveals a lot about Perry’s empire building plans.
And they start with the City of Hartford handing their Capital Prep public school over to Perry’s charter school management company.
According to the New York State charter school application, Perry’s Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. is “designed to be a fiscally fit ‘boutique’ charter management organization (“CMO”).”
Perry goes on to explain,
“We are focused on distinguishing ourselves as a mid-sized network of schools…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. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first…Managing four schools in three cities that are within a two-hour drive of each other allows us to support the schools without having to hire completely new staff for each school.”
“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students. The Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport Connecticut will have 765 students at full enrollment. Capital Prep Harlem will have 600 students in the next five years, and we hope to open a companion kindergarten to fifth grade school in Harlem that will serve another 600 students.”
As for the scope of management fees that he intends to collect, Perry’s New York charter school application boasts,
“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.”
Besides assuming his company will be able to collect management fees from Hartford’s Board of Education, Perry is also counting on Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy to come through for him.
In a surprise move earlier this year, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and the Connecticut State Board of Education rammed through a plan that would allow Steve Perry to open a new charter school in Bridgeport in the fall of 2015.
Although no state funding has been allocated for the Capital Harbor Charter School in Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut is facing a $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget, Perry’s New York application makes it clear that he is expecting Malloy to cough up millions of dollars so he can open his Bridgeport operation and collect his management fees.
Among the many interesting things about the document that Perry has submitted to the New York Board of Regents is the fact that he intends to use the same core “Management Team” for Hartford, Bridgeport and New York.
Since most of the members of Perry’s “Management Team” are presently public employees, his plan raises extremely serious ethical and legal issues.
State and local laws prohibit public employees from engaging in private work that conflicts with their public duties and under no circumstances may public employee use concepts, materials or information developed with public resources to make money during or after their employment with the government.
But despite those legal issues, Perry writes,
“CPS enlisted its founders, current teachers at Capital Prep in Hartford, and strategic consultants to codify the mission, vision and key design elements of the Capital Prep model and operationalize the educational philosophy of the school in order to facilitate replication and training. In addition, this extensive team collaborated to refine the school design in light of the needs of the Harlem community and to develop this proposal. Through regular in person and telephonic meetings, as well as file sharing and other virtual collaboration tools, Dr. Perry…coordinated the production of the proposal with the team of Capital Prep teachers and consultants. Each member of the proposal preparation team has taken on different responsibilities based on their given expertise. The principle writers of this application are Dr. Perry, Ms. Rachel Goldstein, a consultant to CPS and faculty members from Capital Prep.”
Equally troubling is his statement that,
“CPS will launch operations with a core management team representing a mix of deep education experience, business expertise, and political savvy. This ‘hybrid’ team will be crucial to CPS’ success as a high-growth organization in a rapidly changing industry.”
In addition to himself, Perry’s “Management Team” includes Capital Prep’s present assistant principal, Richard Beganski, who is slated to serve as the charter school management company’s chief academic officer.
According to the application, other “Management Team” members include, Kelly Horan, a Capital Prep science teacher; Scott Kapralos, a Capital Prep math teacher; Kitsia Ferguson, a Capital Prep English teacher who presently serves as the Head of Capital Prep’s Lower School; Monique Ethier, another Capital Prep math teacher; Lauren Davern, a Capital Prep history teacher and Lisa Loomis, another Capital Prep English teacher.
Beyond the obvious management and financial issues, Perry’s New York proposal highlights a variety of other areas of concern that will be covered in upcoming posts.
Check back soon for the next post in this series.