Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

True, Connecticut’s Steve Perry has been serving as the principal of Hartford Connecticut’s public charter school named Capital Prep Magnet School but that hasn’t stopped him from opening up a charter school management company using the name of his public school.

For a long period of time, his private company even listed Hartford’s public school address as his private company’s corporate location for its IRS filings.

Now, with only days left to the 2015 Connecticut Legislative Session Perry is counting on Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy to force the Connecticut General Assembly to provide the public funds Perry needs to open his privately owned charter school in Bridgeport Connecticut.

Not one to stand on ceremony, or even legality, Perry’s company website is called “We Are Capital Prep.”

And as a visit there reveals, Perry’s self-described “boutique” charter school chain not only includes the unfunded and unopened Capital Preparatory Harbor [Charter] School in Bridgeport but it also includes the equally non-existent Capital Preparatory Harlem [Charter] School in New York City.

But the piece de résistance is that the man who calls himself the “most trusted educator in America” continues to tell the public that his “Family of Schools” includes Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School… which remains, at least for now, under the care, control and ownership of the Hartford Board of Education and the people of Hartford.

Just check out the site: 

CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS

The Capital Preparatory family of Schools includes the Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut; Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Capital Preparatory Harlem School in New York City.

A click of the mouse will even take you to the taxpayer owned website of the taxpayer owned school called Capital Prep Magnet.

But clearly Perry belief is that the motto in today’s corporate education reform industry world is that something as simple as the basic truth shouldn’t stand in the way of good corporate marketing campaign.

Oh and special word to Connecticut’s state legislators;

Remember, if you use Connecticut’s scarce public funds to preserve vital health and human services rather than fund Perry’s private charter school venture…. Well, you are hereby warned;

The last time he didn’t get his way, Perry took to his Twitter account to threaten;

 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.”

Hartford and CT Taxpayers still subsidizing Steve Perry’s private Charter School Company

Steve Perry, the man who claims to be America’s Most Trusted Educator, also says he owns a “boutique” Charter School Management Company.

Steve Perry has even created a website to show off his private company:

The website can be found via http://wearecapitalprep.org/

According to the website, Steve Perry’s “family of schools” includes Capital Preparatory Harbor School, Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, and Capital Preparatory Magnet School.

Of course, Capital Preparatory Magnet School is the ONLY one of the three schools that actually exists and it is technically and legally owned by the people of Hartford and not by Steve Perry or Steve Perry’s private company.

Perry’s website goes on to brag about another member of his family of schools – “Capital Prep Harbor School, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, provides grades 6–12 with a year-round, college-preparatory education that encourages students to become scholars and agents of change.”

Although to be honest, Capital Preparatory Harbor School doesn’t actually exist.

True Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education approved Perry’s application to open a charter school in Bridgeport, but there is presently no funding allocated for the privately owned but publicly funded school and there is certainly no “Capital Prep Harbor School, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut” that is providing children in grades 6–12 with a year-round, college-preparatory education.

It is worth noting though that while Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed cutting state funding for Connecticut’s public schools by more than $70 million, Malloy is has also asked the Connecticut General Assembly to approve a new state budget that would increase the amount of taxpayer funds diverted to charter schools by more than 25 percent over the next two years. Continue reading “Hartford and CT Taxpayers still subsidizing Steve Perry’s private Charter School Company”

Steve Perry’s taxpayer subsidized “Education Truth Tour”

It is Tuesday, January 13, 2015 – another day of school at Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School – but Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, who has been skipping out on his job there about 25% of the time, is off to Carrollton, Georgia for the latest stop on the “Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour.”

Last month, it was another school day, and the speech was in Buffalo, New York.

Next week it is week day speeches in Radford, Virginia and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The week after that it is Indianapolis.

According to information posted by his publicist, the “Dr. Steve Perry “Education Truth Tour” will take him to twenty four cities in the coming months, almost all the speeches taking place on days when he is supposed to be running a public school in Hartford.

But despite the employment policies and procedures that must be followed by all the other employees of the Hartford School System, Perry has been gallivanting around the country while collecting a paycheck or, at the very least, collecting his pay by cashing in on vacation days, all of which has been signed off by the Hartford superintendent’s office and approved, at least by default, by the leadership of the Hartford Board of Education who have chosen to look the other way.

So who is running the operation back at Capital Prep while Perry is out collecting speaking fees on what are supposed to be work days paid for by the people of Hartford and Connecticut?

According to the charter school applications that Perry and his private charter school management company submitted to open charter schools in Bridgeport and New York City last year, Perry’s Capital Prep “management” team of administrators and teachers are not only running the day-to-day operations at Hartford’s public school, but they have been playing an in integral role in the development of Steve Perry’s private charter school management company, where they helped developed the charter school applications and will be managing the two newly approved charter schools.

As for this charade, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and his political appointees on the State Board of Education approved Perry’s proposal for Bridgeport even though there is no funding in Connecticut’s state budget for another charter school. Perry’s charter application in New York was approved by the New York Board of Regents, despite the fact that the concepts, materials, programs, policies and operations that Perry says he will be using at these news charter schools were developed in the course of the work performed by the Hartford Board of Education employees making the information the property of the Hartford Board and Hartford’s taxpayers and most definitely not the property of Steve Perry and his team.

But with the “green light” from Governor Malloy’s administration and the New York Board of Regents, the two new charter schools will mean that Perry and his private company will be collecting  approximately $25 million in management fees over the next five years.

And how have the Hartford Superintendent and the Hartford Board of Education leadership handled this entire mess?

Without even a public meeting or a vote of the Hartford Board of Education, the Hartford Superintendent announced that Perry’s privately run, but publicly funded charter schools will be “sister-schools” with Hartford Capital Prep Magnet School.

In fact, it wasn’t even Hartford’s Superintendent who “announced” the deal, it was Perry himself who told the Capital Prep parents that he and Hartford’ 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

See Steve Perry announces Capital Prep will have “sister status” with his privately owned charter schools (12/12/14) and Steve Perry Claims Victory – Tweeting – “Not leaving, just expanding.” (12/15/14)

While it remains unclear just what the Hartford Superintendent actually committed taxpayers to fund, Perry explained 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.”

According to Steve Perry’s New York City charter school application he has committed that the Assistant Principal at Capital Prep would become the new COO of his private school management company and that at least  seven other Capital Prep administrators and teachers are founding members of this charter school chain and will provide the administrative and academic support for the new charters schools in New York and Bridgeport.

Obviously one of the most critical questions that remains unanswered is whether the “special deal” between Perry and the Hartford Superintendent is nothing short of an inappropriate, and perhaps an illegal, mechanism to keep the people who will be on Perry’s charter school management staff on the Hartford payroll, saving Perry’s private company millions of dollars in salary and compensation costs.

The agreements associated with the two new charter schools allow Perry to collect management fees of up to ten percent of the total school budgets each year.  If Hartford is going to pay for the lion’s share of the individuals working for Perry’s private charter school management company, it certainly leaves a lot more of the $25 million in management fees for Perry to use for himself or as he sees fit.

And meanwhile, what exactly is the message of the “Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour”?

According to an article published in Urban Image Magazine about Perry’s performance in Buffalo, “During Dr. Perry’s speech in Buffalo, he informed us with his witty charm and humor, there are black people in Hartford!  Who knew!”

As for Perry’s extraordinary record of achievement, the article noted that, “To add the icing on the cake, since its first graduating class in 2006, Capital Preparatory Magnet School has sent 100 percent of its first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges.”   [A statement that, like much of what Perry says, is nothing short of a lie].

And the Urban Image Magazine reporter added that Perry told the audience that they should “Shut down all the Buffalo ‘raggedy” schools!’”

She also explained that, “He went on to say our kids can learn to play football by an uncertified coach with just a whistle and learn how to coordinate complex moves on a field, but they cannot read!  What is wrong with this picture?  Dr. Perry stated our kids are not dumb!  The fact of the matter is teachers are not taking the time to teach our children…Dr. Perry believes teaching is not a job, it’s a calling!  He stated some teachers are not meant to teach or cut out for the job.  Some of the same teachers you had when you were growing up, were no good back then and they are still teaching and they are still no good now Dr. Perry said!”

The real truth is Perry is making big bucks, bashing teachers, spewing hate speech about teacher unions and calling public education advocates, such as Diane Ravitch, racists.

And while it is bad enough that Perry collects tens of thousands of dollars traveling around the country selling his snake oil, it is even worse that he is doing it while serving as a full-time employee for the City of Hartford where he is supposed to be running one of the City’s public schools.

Perry appears to believe that he plays by a different set of rules and, to be honest, he has ample evidence to prove this is indeed the case.

According to state policy, children who miss more than 10 percent of school are deemed to have “excessive absences,” and labeled truants, and if a series of required steps do not correct the student’s truancy rates, the Department of Children and Families is called in.

But when Perry misses two or three times the number of days that would define him as a chronic truant, the Hartford School Board fails to act and the Office of the Hartford Superintendent of Schools continues to sign off on Perry’s schedule, allowing him to collect his salary despite missing massive amounts of work.

Now Perry and his private company have been granted two lucrative “charters,” both of them to be paid using tens of millions in public funds, even though Perry’s school has consistently failed to educate its fair share of Latinos, those with English Language challenges and those with special education needs.

Topping it all off is some bizarre deal that Perry, his private company and the Hartford Board of Education have developed that appears to require that the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut will continue to subsidize what is already Perry’s massive money-making scheme.

Oh, and of course, while all of this plays itself out, the “Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour” continues to take Perry away from his sworn duties at Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School.

The Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour
The Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour from Perry’s website

 

Steve Perry Claims Victory – Tweeting – “Not leaving, just expanding.”

Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers appear poised to subsidize Steve Perry’s private charter school management company thanks to an agreement announced last Friday between Perry and Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools.

Although labeled by Hartford Superintendent as an “informal, non-binding’” agreement, the plan would require the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut to subsidize Steve Perry’s charter school management company [called Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS)] by paying the salaries of Capital Prep Magnet School Assistant Principal Richard Beganski, [who is slated to serve as “Chief Academic Officer” for Perry’s private company], as well as paying the salaries of seven other Capital Prep Magnet School teachers [all of whom are will be serving key roles in Perry private company].

The lucrative deal for Perry was put together and announced without a vote of the Hartford Board of Education.

In announcing the agreement, “outgoing” Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry wrote,

“I am pleased to announce that together with our superintendent, Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, we have generated a plan that will establish “sister schools” between Capital Prep and our new schools.”

In turn, according to a Hartford Courant article entitled, “Capital Prep’s Steve Perry, Superintendent Work On School Collaboration,” Hartford Superintendent of Schools Beth Schiavino-Narvaez provided the Hartford Board of  Education with a memo explaining that she had developed “’an informal, non-binding’” pact with Perry that would allow Capital Prep and Perry’s new charter schools to “share training among staff, guidance on best practices” and “opportunities for student collaboration on projects and visits.”

Later on Friday, when a Perry supporter Tweeted, “I’m sorry to see you leaving Hartford!” Perry responded;

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“Not leaving, just expanding.”

As for the parameters of the deal, The Hartford Courant wrote,

“Narvaez said the district would not pay a fee for the goodwill arrangement… [And] Narvaez stressed that Hartford does not cede any power to Perry or his charter group.”

However, what Hartford’s Superintendent failed to address is what appears to be the massive financial subsidy for Perry’s private charter school operation that is hidden inside the “agreement.”

As part of his application to the New York Board of Regents for his proposed Harlem Capital Prep Charter School, Perry wrote;

“CPS [Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. which is 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.”

According to Perry’s application to open Harlem Capital Prep, his private corporation’s financial plan was based on collecting management fees from all of his schools, including the public school in Hartford.  The Harlem Capital Prep application reads;

“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.”

The application goes on to note;

“CPS [Perry’s private company] will support Capital Prep Harlem through its oversight of the principal, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and its overall monitoring of fidelity to the Capital Prep model.  CPS will also utilize its two other schools in Bridgeport and Hartford to provide professional development and to share resources. The three schools will act as a ‘boutique’ network in which faculty, staff, parents and students participate in academic and social exchanges.”

According to the application, “MANAGEMENT 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.”

The application states that Stephen D. Perry will serve the charter school management company’s “Head of Schools” and Richard Beganski will serve as CPS’ “Chief Academic Officer.”  Beganski presently serves as Capital Prep’s Assistant Principal.

The New York application states that, “Ten founding group members from Capital Prep came together to launch CPS as the school management organization to lead replication of the Capital Prep model.”  The founding members of the charter management company are then listed, nine of the ten being full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.

The application reports that the CPS “GOVERNANCE” team includes;

Stephen D. Perry, MSW, EdD…

Richard Beganski, MA, has been the Academic Dean of Capital Prep since the school began in 2005. Mr. Beganski has created or co-created most of the original documents that have constituted the structure for Capital Prep…

Scott F. Wojnarowicz, MA has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2005. Mr. Wojnarowicz was the founding member of the Capital Prep Magnet School planning committee. In addition, he was the primary author of the original draft of the Capital Prep Student Expectations manual, co-author of Capital Prep’s Blueprint, and author of Capital Prep’s Physical Education and Wellness Plan…

Kelly Horan, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Science Department since July 2011. Since joining the Capital Prep, Ms. Horan has taken on increasing levels of responsibility in an effort to improve teaching and learning through data-driven instruction…

Scott Kapralos, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2005. Mr. Kapralos was one of the founding members of Capital Prep and has committed most of his career to the development and improvement of the Capital Prep model…

Kitsia Ferguson, MBA, EdD, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the English Department since 2006 and is currently the Head of Capital Prep’s Lower School.

Monique Ethier, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2007.

Lauren Davern, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the History Department since 2007…

Lisa Loomis, has been Head of the English Department at Capital Prep since August 2013 and a teacher at Capital Prep in the English Department since July 2012…

All of these individuals are presently full-time employees of Hartford Public School System.

What is absolutely clear is that according to the documents Perry and his private company provided the New York Board of Regents, control of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School was critical to his plans, not only since he would be collecting a multi-million dollar management fee for running Hartford’s public magnet school but because he would be using Capital Prep to employee the majority of the members of his private company.

By deciding not to turn Capital Prep Magnet School over to Perry and his charter school management company, Hartford put Perry’s financial plan in serious jeopardy.

However, as a result of the Hartford Superintendent’s new “informal, non-binding’” agreement, the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut seem ready to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies to Perry’s operation by paying the salaries of Richard Beganski,( the “Chief Academic Officer” for Perry’s company) and seven other Capital Prep Magnet School teachers, who according to the New York charter school application, will be playing key roles in Perry private company.

Considering the financial issues facing the City of Hartford and the State of Connecticut it is astonishing that the Hartford would agree to divert scarce resources to support Steve Perry’s ambitions to develop a lucrative charter school management company.

Steve Perry announces Capital Prep will have “sister status” with his privately owned charter schools

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.

Perry embarks on yet another “New Endeavor” while a full-time Hartford employee

Clearly the six figure income Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry collects from Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers isn’t slowing down his “extra-curricular” activities.

In addition to his lucrative public-speaking business and his private charter school management company, the Hartford Board of Education employee – who misses more than 25% of Hartford school days – has joined television Bishop T.D. Jakes in creating a new “Continuing Education Program.”

According to a press release issued last month, Steve Perry, Bishop T.D. Jakes and businessman Daymond John (of ABC’s Shark Tank) have created a new “continuing education program to help professionals take their careers to the next level.”

According to the news coverage following the press release, Perry is referred to as a Ph.D., which of course he is not.

The media report is that Perry’s new endeavor is in conjunction with the “TD Jakes School of Leadership – Higher Learning for a Higher Purpose,” (See at http://tdjakesleadership.com/.) The website features a picture of Perry and explains that the education program is “powered by Regent University’s Professional and Continuing Education division.”  Regent University, in turn, reports that they are, “one of the nation’s leading academic centers for Christian thought and action, with associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees available worldwide. Our academic standards are high and our programs rigorous, but what sets Regent apart is our mission to prepare capable men and women to excel both in mind and spirit. Our students, faculty and administrators share a calling, founded on biblical principles, to make a significant difference in our world. (http://www.regent.edu/)

When explaining how the new program got started, Capital Prep’s Steve Perry told one publication, A couple years ago, Bishop Jakes and I started talking about working together around the topic of education….Eventually the partnership with Regents came forward and it was an opportunity to take this online learning experience and bring it to our community.”

Perry adds, ““The curriculum is cutting-edge, relevant and innovative, and taught by industry experts…You can take individual classes to refresh your skills or enroll in a series of courses toward earning a certificate.”

The new program’s marketing material adds,The T.D. Jakes School of Leadership was instituted by T.D. Jakes and Regent University’s Professional & Continuing Education division (PCE) to provide world-class educational tools and resources for leaders seeking higher learning opportunities to grow and excel in their professional and personal development…The school fulfills Jakes’ vision to make quality educational tools accessible to those leaders seeking to advance their professional careers. The T.D. Jakes School of Leadership offers fully accredited, industry-focused certificate programs and leadership institutes for professionals, emerging leaders, knowledge workers in transition or retirees desiring to chart the course for the next phase.”

You can read more at;

http://tdjakesleadership.com/; http://www.regent.edu/; http://www.regent.edu/academics/pce/; http://www.blackenterprise.com/career/steve-perry-working-bishop-jakes-leadership-program/ and http://www.blackenterprise.com/career/steve-perry-working-bishop-jakes-leadership-program/

Breaking News – Capital Prep Steve Perry leaving Hartford

Steve Perry, the man who described himself as the, “most trusted educator in America,” is leaving his post as principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory School in order to pursue his desire to join the charter school industry and expand upon on his plans to develop a charter school management company.

Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez notified parents, guardians and staff of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in a letter writing that Perry, “will be leaving the role of principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School at the close of this school year.”

The Hartford Superintendent added, “As we say thank you to Principal Perry for his service to the Hartford Public Schools, we will engage you in finding the next leader of the school….During this period of transition from one school leader to another, I want to assure you that the district’s relationship with Capital Prep and its support of the school will not change.”

While Perry’s departure is extremely good news for those concerned about his leadership style, his excessive absenteeism and his school’s unwillingness to educate its fair share of non-English speaking students and children who require special education services, Perry’s decision to depart Capital Prep Magnet School leaves numerous outstanding issues un-addressed.

For example, the Hartford Superintendent’s letter only references the news that Steve Perry will be leaving his post.

However, there are eight other full-time Capital Prep administrators and teachers who are listed as founding members of Perry’s charter school operation and are included in Perry’s plans to open up charter schools in Bridgeport and Harlem, New York in the fall of 2015.

According to the official documents filed with the Connecticut and New York State Departments of Education, Perry’s has stated that Capital Prep’s Assistant Principal, Richard Beganski, is a key member of Perry charter school management company and will hold leadership positions at the proposed charter schools.  Obviously, as a full-time employee of Capital Prep, Beganski can’t remain in his present job and thus it can be assumed that Beganski’s resignation will be forthcoming soon.   The situation is equally true for the other seven full-time Hartford Board of Education employees who Perry has listed a part of his company and charter school management operation.

Considering that initial charters were granted based on Perry’s claim to have a team already in place, and that his applications actually listed these individuals as key players, a number of other Capital Prep administrators and employees must be planning to join Perry in the Hartford Public School System.

An even more important, but unresolved issue, is how Perry can even replicate Capital Prep Magnet School in Bridgeport and Harlem when federal copyright laws and Hartford Board of Education policies appear to make it clear that the concepts, materials, curriculum, policies and procedures that Perry has said he will be using in his charter schools actually belong to the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and do not belong to Perry or Perry’s private company as he claimed in his Bridgeport and Harlem charter school proposals.

With pending complaints filed against Perry at the state and local level in Connecticut and New York about these issues, his ability to meet the requirements of the new charter applications appears doubtful.

In addition, Perry also faces a series of lawsuits and legal actions based on his treatment of employees who have since left Capital Prep Magnet School.

And if as if that wasn’t enough, Perry and his eight fellow Capital Prep Magnet School employees must still face the issue of how there were able to spend the last two years working to develop Perry’s charter school company when, in fact, they were employed as full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.  The issue goes beyond the problems associated with what could be criminal copyright infringement to whether these employees improperly spent time or public resources working to provide services that benefited Perry’s private company or, through that company, were designed to provide these nine individuals with present or future earnings.  As some lawyers have noted, a case of “theft of service” could arguably made against these public employees if they were engaged in private work on public time or if their work as public school employees was designed to guarantee them private income at a future date.

Check back for more on this breaking story.

Open letter to the Hartford Board of Education and Hartford Superintendent of Schools regarding Steve Perry

To the members of the Hartford Board of Education and Hartford Superintendent of Schools

Re:  The Hartford BOE’s review and action related to Steve Perry ‘s apparent criminal infringement of the Hartford Board of Education’s copyrights. 

As I believe you know, at its meeting on November 17-18, 2014, the New York Board of Regents, upon the recommendation of the New York Commissioner of Education and his staff, approved granting Steve Perry and his private charter school management corporation an initial charter to open the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School in New York City.

The resolution read that, “In New York City, Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, proposed as a replication of an effective magnet school in Connecticut, will partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem to provide middle- and high-school students with a rigorous, year-round college preparatory curriculum..”

The Board of Regents voted,

“That the Regents find that the proposed charter school: (1) meets the requirements set out in Article 56 of the Education Law, and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations; (2) will operate in an educationally and fiscally sound manner; (3) is likely to improve student learning and achievement and materially further the purposes set out in subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty of Article 56 of the Education Law; and (4) will have a significant educational benefit to the students expected to attend the charter school, and the Board of Regents therefore approves and issues a charter and provisional charter to the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School for a term of five years in accordance with §2851(2)(p) of the Education Law.

You can find Mr. Perry’s application at: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2014/November2014/1114p12a3.pdf

However, I submit that federal and state law is extremely clear on this matter and that all concepts, materials, curriculum, policies, procedures and any and all documents associated with the Capital Preparatory Magnet School do not belong to Mr. Perry or his private company, but actually belong to the Hartford Board of Education, and therefore, by definition, to the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut.

It is undeniable that the Hartford’s Board of Education’s policies make it clear that all work done by employees, in the course of their official duties, belongs to the Board.

Mr. Perry lacks the legal authority to “replicate” Capital Preparatory Magnet Schools and, as his application to the New York Board of Regents repeatedly states, the concepts, materials, curriculum, policies and procedures that he has proposed using come directly and exclusively from his work as a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education.

Furthermore, his application makes clear that his charter school management company, which includes himself and at least eight other full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education, will benefit financially from using the materials that actually belong to the Hartford Board of Education.  Perry’s newly approved charter grants him the ability to collect a 10 percent annual management fee that will mean millions of dollars being transferred to his company.

The use of copyrighted materials for personal or private gain is a criminal offense under federal law.

While appropriate complaints have been filed with the Hartford Ethics Commission, the Connecticut State Auditors and appropriate officials and agencies in New York State and New York City, the primary fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets of the Hartford Board of Education rests with the Superintendent and the Hartford Board.

I am writing to inquire what process you are using to investigate this matter and whether the issue will be raised and discussed at the Hartford Board of Education meeting on December 16, 2014.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this letter of inquiry.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Pelto

Another Charter School bites the dust….after founder lies…

At the same November meeting that the New York Board of Regents approved Capital Prep Steve Perry’s application to open a charter school in Harlem, they voted to grant a charter to Ted Morris Jr. and the Greater Works Charter School to open a charter school in Rochester, New York.

Days later, the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper of Rochester reported that the Greater Works Charter School “will no longer open in Rochester in 2015, part of the continuing fallout over lies in the resume of its 22-year-old founder.”

The newspaper, along with fellow education bloggers led by Mercedes Schneider, have been reporting on the school and its founder, Ted Morris Jr. who  “represented himself to the New York State Education Department as a precocious businessman and educational adviser with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.”

However, it turns out that Ted Morris Jr. has no college degrees at all.

According to the Greater Works Charter School application,

 “Ted [Morris Jr.] is the Lead Applicant for and Founder of GWCS. He is a life-long resident of Rochester, NY. Currently, Ted is an education consultant with the Morris Firm and has previously held positions such as the Director of Operations, Finance, Development, and Assistant CEO with various non-profit youth, education, and human service-related agencies. He has 7+ years of experience in these fields. Ted has a B.S. in Human Services, an M.S.W. in Non-Profit Leadership and is finishing up his Ed.D. in Administration.

But Morris doesn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree nor is he finishing up his Education Doctorate.

In fact, at age 22, Morris doesn’t even have “7+ years of experience” in the education management field.

But the fact that his resume was obviously falsified and the charter school application was a fraud, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Education and Board of Regents decided to give Morris and his company the lucrative charter.

In a quote worthy of Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, when the New York Board of Regents was asked how they could have granted a charter to someone who falsified their resume and had no college degrees, the New York State Department of Education spokesman said, “We don’t grant charters to individuals. We grant charters to boards based on the application.”

Considering the fall-out with the Greater Works Charter School, it will be interesting to see how the New York Board of Regents handles Steve Perry, now that it appears that Perry doesn’t have the legal right to replicate “Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School” since the concepts, ideas and materials associated with Capital Prep are owned by the City of Hartford and not Steve Perry’s private company.

You can read more at the controversy surrounding the Greater Works Charter School at  http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/12/01/scrutinized-charter-school-withdraws-application/19745855/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mercedes-schneider/to-merryl-tisch-take-resp_b_6245436.html

Perry’s stunning record of absenteeism continues

As 2013 came to an end, Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry had missed about 30 of 127 school days, which was about 24 percent of all school days since the 2013-2014 Capital Prep school year had begun.

As of the beginning of October 2014, Perry had already been way from Capital Prep for an incredible 55 days, of which about 30 or so were school days.

In fact, since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, Perry’s absentee rate is nearly 25 percent.

This disregard for his duties as a full-time employee of the Hartford Public Schools comes at a time when federal, state and local officials are cracking down on absenteeism.

The Connecticut State Department of Education’s own report says, “Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing ten percent or greater of the total number of school days for ANY REASON.  It includes both excused and unexcused absences.” 

According to state law, “Parents who do not assume responsibility for their child’s attendance as required by law, may be referred to the State Prosecutor for prosecution.”

The State Department of Education’s level of concern is about chronic and excessive absenteeism is so great, that just last month the State Board of Education announced their intention to “rank order” all Connecticut public schools based each school’s  level of student absenteeism and that poor absentee rates could lead to state takeover of local schools.

Absenteeism rates among teachers have also been receiving attention lately.  A June 2014 report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) claimed that, “When teachers are absent 10 days, the decrease in student achievement is equivalent to the difference between having a brand new teacher and one with two or three years more experience…Worse yet, a number of studies have found there to be a disproportionately high rate of teacher absenteeism in schools serving low income and minority students, providing yet another obstacle to closing the achievement gap.”

But considering the vital role that administrators have in public schools, policymakers should be even more concerned when top administrators, like Capital Prep’s Steve Perry are missing in action for dozens of school days.

In the past, Perry has defended his excessive absenteeism by claiming that he was simply using banked “vacation time,” but the Hartford Board of Education and the contract between the Board of Education and administrator’s union limits the use of banked vacation time.

For example, the Hartford’s administrator’s contract notes that principles shall not take vacation time for the five days prior to the return of teachers to school, and yet, this year, Perry skipped out on two of the five days leading up to the beginning of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School year and even took a vacation day during one of the two “Professional Learning Days” at the beginning of the school year when administrators are supposed to be getting teachers ready for the arrival of students.

State and local policies also say that key administrators should be in their buildings and on duty when students are engaged in the major standardized testing periods, but Perry was away multiple days last spring when students were suffering through the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.

An equally troubling question is how Perry is even getting permission to take so many vacation days.

While principals in Hartford Public Schools can bank their vacation and sick days, the Hartford Board of Education Policy requires principals to receive permission from an assistant superintendent of schools before they can take any day off.

Of course, the backdrop to this entire issue is the actions that Perry and his top administrators and teachers are taking when it comes to their efforts to start up a charter management company.  According to the charter school proposals Perry and his operation submitted in Connecticut and New York, he and eight of his senior administrators and teachers have been working for the past two years to turn Perry’s private company into a charter school management chain.

As has been noted in earlier Wait, What? blogs, their actions raise serious legal and ethical issues since the concepts, ideas and materials that they have been using to promote their charter school company actually belong to the City of Hartford.

Official complaints have now been filed with the Hartford Ethics Commission, the Connecticut State Auditors and appropriate entities in New York where Perry is trying to open a charter school in Harlem.

With the extent of Perry’s chronic absenteeism comes the question of whether, in addition to violating copyright laws, Perry or any members of his team have inappropriately been collecting full-time salaries and benefits, all of which are paid for by Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers.