As Wait, What? readers have known for months, the Malloy administration has been engaged in a campaign to force the City of Hartford to turn their Clark Elementary School over to a private, out-of-state private charter school chain based in Washington D.C.
Initially Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, tried to “persuade” the City of Hartford to turn Clark Elementary School over to Achievement First, Inc. the charter school chain that Pryor co-founded.
When the parents, teachers and Clark School community fought back, the Hartford Board of Education, the majority of whom are appointed by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segar, said no.
At that point, Pryor and the Malloy administration switched to Plan B.
Plan B was to force Hartford to turn the local neighborhood school over to Friendship Charter Schools of Washington DC through a no-bid contract process.
Once again parents, teachers and the Clark School Community fought back.
But Commissioner Stefan Pryor, along with his aides, has spent that last few weeks trying to force Hartford to give up their opposition and agree to turn their school over the private charter school company.
According to sources who attended meetings about this issue, the Pryor’s group has told parents that the only way Clark Elementary School can get significantly more funds to improve their school is to allow this backroom deal to go forward.
When some community leaders complained that the Friendship Charter School chain was being forced upon them, Commissioner Pryor’s aide, Andrew Ferguson, shot back saying, “You’ve had years to do this internally.”
Ferguson’s comment is particularly repulsive and inappropriate since the Connecticut State Department of Education is well aware of the historic underfunding of Connecticut’s schools and that there is absolutely nothing preventing Pryor from investing additional funds in Clark Elementary without making the community give up control of their neighborhood school to a private out-of-state charter school company.
While the level of arrogance emanating from the Connecticut State Department of Education is shocking, the real question is who has participated in the behind the scenes effort to undermine the teachers and parents and push forward with the deal to hand Clark Elementary over to the Washington D.C.’s Friendship Charter School chain.
To date, freedom of information requests for all communication between the Malloy administration and the corporate leadership of Friendship Charter company have gone unanswered.
Therefore, an additional request will submitted today,
The new FOI request will again be made pursuant to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.
The new request is a demand that the State Department of Education turn over all written communication, memos, documents, emails and corresponding attachments that mention “Friendship Charter” and were sent to or from Commissioner Pryor, Adam Goldfarb (Pryor’s chief of staff), Morgan Barth (Pryor School Turnaround Director) or Andrew Ferguson (Pryor and Barth’s aide assigned to the Clark School Committee).
The request covers all communication created, sent or received during the period from September 1, 2013 through today, March 28, 2014.
In addition, the State Department of Education is instructed to turn over a list of all phone calls that were made by these four individuals, along with the date, time and duration of each call. The request covers both the office and cell phones of those four previously mentioned state employees.
If the Malloy administration were serious about transparency, honesty and fairness, these materials would be immediately turned over and shared with the Clark School community prior to any final vote on the future of Hartford’s Clark School.