Stench of Chicago’s Corporate Education Reform Industry scandal wafts as far as Connecticut

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This past Tuesday (October 13, 2015) former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, one of the nation’s leading Corporate Education Reform Industry leaders, pleaded guilty for her role in a $23 million kick-back scheme with Gary Solomon and his education reform companies, The SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates.

As part of the plea agreement federal prosecutors told the court that they would drop all but one of the twenty fraud charges listed in Byrd-Bennett’s indictment and that although she faced a maximum of 20 years on each of 20 fraud counts, they would recommend a prison sentence of no more than seven 7 ½ years if she continued to “cooperate with federal investigators.”

Byrd-Bennett has previously served in top management positions with the Cleveland and Detroit public school systems.

As Barbara Byrd-Bennett was pleading guilty for her crimes in Chicago, The Detroit News reported that the FBI was investigating contracts Byrd-Bennett approved when she worked in Detroit;

According to six-month expenditure reports from May and November 2011, DPS paid $1,487,654.08 to Synesi for “Consultant Services/Curriculum/Office of Accountability.”

The report from November 2011 also lists an invoice of $128,698.77 to Synesi as “disapproved.”

The dark cloud of potentially illegal activities casts a long shadow over The Supes Academy, Synesi Associates, and a third company that is owned by Gary Solomon, PROACT Search.

As previously reported, Solomon’s PROACT Search has received a number of contracts in Connecticut.

The superintendent search firm was responsible for getting Garth Harries the superintendent’s job in New Haven and Manuel Rivera the same post in Norwalk.

When the New London Board of Education, with the help of Governor Malloy’s Special Master Steven Adamowski, hired Rivera away from Norwalk in February 2015, the Norwalk Board of Education re-hired PROACT Search and this time they recommend Steven Adamowski for the job.

Steven Adamowski has had a long-standing relationship with Gary Solomon and his corporate education reform companies.  Adamowski worked with The Supes Academy for many years and has also been on PROACT Search’s preferred list.

When Steven Adamowski announced his surprise departure as head of the Cincinnati school system in 2002, PROACT Search was hired to find his replacement.  The process garnered national attention as the Cincinnati Enquirer ended up, “suing the school board and its new superintendent over the secretive process by which the superintendent was chosen for the job.  Adamowski’s name was featured prominently in the newspaper’s complaint.

Four years later, in 2006, when PROACT Search put Steven Adamowski on the short-list for the superintendent’s job in Seattle, the move generated searing local criticism (See: The School Board Flunks Google 101 – In rounding up superintendent candidates, it seems no one did their homework. And what about the $63,500 head-hunting firm?)

And PROACT Search’s involvement in Norwalk has also generated controversy.

As the $20 million no-bid contract in Chicago originally came to light, Catalyst Chicago, a local education media outlet in Illinois reported;

In addition, Byrd-Bennett is listed as a senior associate for a superintendent search firm called PROACT Search, in documents dated August 2012—four months after taking the position with CPS [Chicago Public Schools.] PROACT is run by the same individuals who lead Supes: Gary Solomon, the executive director, and Thomas Vranas, the president

[…]

Byrd-Bennett is one of four contacts listed in the proposal for services submitted by PROACT in its bid to do a superintendent search for the Norwalk, Connecticut school district. She has an e-mail address listed in the proposal. When PROACT won the contract, an official for the company was quoted in the local newspaper touting that Byrd-Bennett, who by that time had been named as Chicago’s CEO, was a contractor with the firm.

[…]

However, Byrd-Bennett denies that she ever worked for PROACT and was surprised that her name was used, according to CPS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn. Quinn says the e-mail address [email protected] was “generic.”

At the time, Norwalk Board of Education member Mike Lyons, Steven Adamowski’s biggest local supporter, who now serves as Chairman of the Norwalk Board of Education spoke out in favor of hiring PROACT Search.  A November 12, 2102 Stamford Advocate article reported,

Lyons said the company has three bilingual staff members that will work on the project and hires contractors as well, including Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former superintendent of the Cleveland school system and now CEO of the Chicago school system

“I think we’ve got some really top flight talent that this group can bring in,” Lyons said.

Two years later, when it was time to find yet another superintendent, the Norwalk BoE voted 7-0 to rehire PROACT This time the company’s involvement led to the hiring of Steven Adamowski

In addition to their connection with Gary Solomon’s company, both Garth Harries and Steven Adamowski “graduated” from the Broad Academy, a corporate education reform training camp funded by billionaire Eli Broad, whose foundation is one of the three biggest funders of the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

A fourth Connecticut name with connections to those associated with the Chicago scandal is Christina Kishimoto who became Hartford’s superintendent when Adamowski left the position in 2011.  Kishimoto was Adamowski’s choice for the job, despite Mayor Pedro Segarra’s opposition (or initial opposition).  Like Adamowski, Kishimoto has worked with Gary Solomon’s Supes Academy.

Who is behind the effort to destroy Hartford’s Clark Elementary School?

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Clark Elementary School’s parents, teachers and community have a right to know what is really going on behind the scenes in the ongoing effort to stifle parental involvement and hand Clark over to an out-of-state charter school company.

The corporate education reform industry has targeted Clark, but who exactly is pushing these unfair, discriminatory proposals that seek to take over the school, fire all the teachers and hand control of the school over to those who have no understanding of the community?

It is time to find out,

Pursuant to  the Connecticut Freedom of Information act, the proponents of this Clark takeover need to produce any and all memos, documents, notes, emails and attachments that have been sent, received or produced over the last 60 days and relate to the Clark Elementary School.

If elected and appointed officials won’t do the right thing for the Clark community then at least the community deserves to know the deals that have been cut behind the scenes.

This Freedom of Information request will cover Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Morgan Barth, Pryor “Turnaround Director” and Andrew Ferguson, Pryor and Barth’s point person on the effort to destroy Clark.

In addition FOI requests are being submitted for the same information from Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Hartford Portfolio Director Oliver Barton.

Clark should refuse to engage in further discussion until these materials are handed over.

The request for these documents are being submitted today, it will be noteworthy to see if Malloy administration and the City of Hartford fulfill their legal duty and hand over the requested information in a timely fashion.

 

Mayor Segarra and Matt Poland lead 6-2 vote to give TFA $650,000

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There will be 210 fewer job openings in the Hartford School System for Connecticut residents thanks to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland and their allies on the Hartford Board of Education.

While hundreds of qualified, certified Connecticut teachers are unemployed and hundreds of additional Connecticut residents will be seeking teaching jobs after graduating from Connecticut institutions of higher education and completely comprehensive teacher training programs, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra led his political appointees in a 6-2 vote to give Teach for America another three-year contract with the City of Hartford..  In exchange for the $650,000 finder’s fee, Teach for America will send 210 new recruits to teach in Hartford Schools.

Mayor Segarra appoints the majority of members to the Hartford Board of Education.  All of his appointees, including out-going Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, voted in favor of the TFA contract.

In this case the actual deciding vote came from the Hartford Board of Education’s one elected Republican who, “coincidently,” was “elected” chairman of the Hartford Board of Education last night as Segarra’s choice for the position.

Only Working Families Party member Robert Cotto and Michael Brescia, a former Buckley High School teacher, voted against the TFA contract.

Although the TFA recruits only get five weeks of training, they are paid the same salary and given the same benefits as teachers who already hold teacher certification in Connecticut and who have gone through a full college-level teacher training program.

The Hartford Courant update on the vote is below, but for background purposes,

According to Forbes Magazine, as of 2012, Teach for America collects in excess of $318 million a year to enlist recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities throughout the United States.

Wendy Kopp is the Founder and Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors.  Until recently she was Co-CEO of Teach For America.  Now, in addition to being the Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors, Kopp serves as Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Teach For All, a new TFA spin-off company that is trying to recreate TFA in the global marketplace.

Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel Jr. is the Treasurer of Teach For America’s Board of Directors.  Mandel is not only a major campaign contributor to Governor Malloy but has donated tens of millions to support the corporate education reform industry.  Mandel played a pivotal role in the creation of Excel Bridgeport Inc. and the related ongoing effort to privatize public education in Bridgeport.

In addition to her TFA work, Wendy Kopp is married to Richard Barth, Jr.  Barth serves as the CEO of the KIPP charter school chain.  KIPP is one of the biggest players in the corporate education reform industry with 141 charter schools in 20 states.

Interestingly, Morgan Barth, who illegally taught and served as an administrator at Achievement First, Inc. for six years before becoming Commissioner Pryor’s “Turnaround Director” is a close relative of Barth and Kopp.

Of course, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor is the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc.  Achievement First Inc. is the charter school management company with schools in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island.  Achievement First Inc. has also been the charter school company that has received the most financial benefit from Malloy and Pryor’s pro-charter school policies.

Not long ago Achievement First, Inc. added Elisa Villanueva Beard to their Board of Directors.  Elisa Villanueva Beard is a long time TFA senior executive and became TFA’s Co-CEO when Kopp left to become CEO of that new TFA spin off company.

Jonathan Sackler, a leading corporate education reform advocate in Connecticut and another major Malloy donor has been part of the Achievement First Inc. Board of Directors since it was co-founded by Stefan Pryor.  Sacker also formed ConnCAN and ConnAD, which is now called A Better Connecticut.

ConnCAN, ConnAD and A Better Connecticut led the record-breaking $6 million dollar lobbying effort in support of Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” initiative.  These groups, along with Steve Mandel and Excel Bridgeport Inc., played the key role in support of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate an elected board of education in Bridgeport.  They also pumped a significant amount of money into Fich’s failed effort to elect Bridgeport Board of Education candidates who would support Paul Vallas.  (They failed Vallas leaves his post in Bridgeport this coming Friday).  Finch is a leading supporter of Achievement First’s Bridgeport Charter School and is lobbying on behalf of Capital Prep Steve Perry’s attempt to use his own private company to open a charter school in Bridgeport.

Jonathan Sackler also created 50CAN, a company dedicated to spreading the ConnCAN model across the country.  Sackler formed 50CAN and serves on its Board of Directors.  50CAN’s Board includes Dacia Toll who not only co-founded Achievement First Inc. with Stefan Pryor, but presently serves as Co-CEO & President of Achievement First, Inc.

Another 50CAN Board Member is none-other-than KIPP Charter School’s Richard Barth Jr.  That being the same Richard Barth Jr. who is Wendy Kopp’s husband and Morgan Barth’s relative.

Meanwhile, back in Hartford, the Hartford Courant explains,

“The board voted 6-2 to approve a three-year, $650,940 contract extension between the city schools and Teach For America, a proposal that drew critics and supporters of TFA who addressed the board for more than an hour during public comments.

Teach For America recruits and trains recent college graduates who pledge to teach for at least two years in mostly low-income public schools across the country. The agreement calls for Hartford to pay Teach For America about $3,000 per recruit, with up to 60 TFA hires in 2014-15, up to 70 in 2015-16 and as many as 80 in 2016-17.

[…]

Since 2007, the first year of Hartford’s partnership with Teach For America, the district has hired 1,477 new teachers, 14 percent of whom are TFA recruits, said Jennifer Allen, the school system’s chief talent officer.

Rather than graduating from a traditional teacher preparation college, TFA recruits complete five weeks of training and become certified through the state’s Alternate Route to Certification program, administrators said. They also receive ongoing professional development through TFA that Allen called “a remarkable model for supporting new teachers.”

While several Hartford students spoke in support of their TFA teachers, many of the critics Monday, including Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, described the contract as paying a “headhunters fee” and argued that the money should be spent on improving school programs. Board member Robert Cotto Jr., who voted against the extension, also criticized the retention rate.

Among the 22 TFA hires in 2007, three remain in the school system. And of the 31 TFA teachers in the 2011-12 year, 13 still teach in Hartford schools, district data show.

Those numbers reveal that only 13 percent of the 2007 TFA recruits are still teaching in Hartford after six years and 58 percent of the 2011 TFA recruits have already bailed.

Of course, the contract states that TFA keeps its $3,000 per recruit even if the teacher quits during the first week of school.

Hartford’s Matt Poland lashes out at citizens who write to him about his upcoming TFA vote

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Appointed by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland serves as a member of the Hartford Board of Education.  While he will remain on the Board, Poland is stepping down as Chairman tonight and Segarra’s appointees will elect the one Republican on the Board to become the Chairman.

Matt Poland also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Hartford Library.  Poland became the Hartford Public Library’s Deputy Administrator in June 2008.  He became interim Director in December 2008 and by October 2009 he had acquired the title of Chief Executive Officer.  This was the first time that such a title had been used since the library opened in 1893.

As a public servant, whether on the Hartford Board of Education or as an employee of the Hartford Public Library, Poland’s primary job is to serve the public.

It is for that reason his email attack on citizens who contacted him is all the more bizarre.

As noted in previous Wait, What? blog posts, the Hartford Board of Education will be voting on a $650,000 Teach for America contract tonight.  Over the past few weeks a number of citizens have written to members of the Hartford Board of Education urging them to vote no.  Some citizens wrote following an informative email they received from the American Federation of Teachers (see below).

On Saturday night, after receiving a number of emails, Matt Poland went into an email tirade and sent out this response.

Collecting the names of the people who had written to him, Poland sent out a blast email that was cc’d to all the people who wrote.  His email read,

“I have just received 13 e-mails from this group on the above-referenced topic in which each of you have presented yourselves as Hartford residents, while only 6 are actually residents and taxpayers in the City (please see the list of locations below). Let me begin by saying that this demonstrates a lack of good judgement on the part of those writers who misrepresented themselves.

Since this is a form letter, it is clear that there is an organizing entity behind this effort. I will tell you what I intend to do when one of you tell me who you represent.

Matt Poland
Board Chair

Windsor
Newington
Rocky Hill
West Hartford
East Hartford (2)
Bloomfield
Hartford (6)

If there was a “Hall of Fame” to highlight the arrogance and sense of entitlement that permeates American politics, politicians and political appointees, Poland’s missive could certainly be a stand-alone exhibit.

It would certainly be inappropriate for a non-Hartford resident to say they lived in Hartford.  As members of the Hartford Board of Education, Poland and the others certainly have a primary duty to Hartford students, parents, teachers and residents.

However for Poland to dismiss the concerns of the people who wrote to him is beyond insulting.

Here are some important facts:

As a result of the Open Choice program, Hartford schools accept children from the entire region. 

Even more to the point, only about 23 percent of Hartford’s $415 million school budget is funded by Hartford taxpayers.  Connecticut taxpayers pick up about 67 percent of Hartford’s school budget and the federal government pays for most of the last 10 percent.

From the available evidence, it certainly doesn’t appear that any person was trying to “trick” Poland into believing they were Hartford residents, but more to the point, as a public official Poland has a duty to be open-minded enough that voices – even those outside of Hartford – are heard.

The individuals who wrote the emails to Poland were apparently persuaded to write after reading the following email sent out by the American Federation of Teachers,

Hartford’s Board of Education is expected to vote Monday night on whether to renew a recruiting contract with Teach for America (TFA) worth nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

Is this really the best use of the city’s limited education resources?

Handing $651,000.00 to TFA over three years as a “finders-fee” for an additional 210 recruits for the district raises additional questions:

Why spend tax dollars on a human resources function when parents are crying out for improvements to their neighborhood schools?

Why outsource recruiting to TFA instead of partnering with our state’s public colleges and universities?

Why import TFA recruits from outside the state when there is no shortage of credentialed teachers right here in Connecticut?

Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”

The growing “Hartford Rising” movement has been saying school officials need to listen to parents, communities, and educators before making decisions that impact students and their opportunity to learn. Join them in urging the board vote “NO” to this costly contract.

In solidarity,

Melodie Peters
President, AFT Connecticut

Steve McKeever
First Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Jean Morningstar
Second Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Andrea Johnson
President, Hartford Federation of Teachers Local 1018

Shellye Davis
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221

Jackie Aviles
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221

P.S. Click here for a brief story on the board’s planned vote and the growing movement to “resist TFA” in local schools across the nation.

And when you, “Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside ‘head hunters,’” you get this,

Hartford BOE: Make Better Choices than Finder’s Fees

Hartford school officials are about to decide on renewing a three-year, $651,000.00 contract with Teach for America (TFA) for an additional 210 recruits for the district. We are urging members living in Hartford to contact the Board of Education before their February 24 meeting and urge they make better choices with scarce education resources.

Join the Hartford Rising! movement in urging the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”

In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.

Please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results. Please enter your zip/postal code

Corporate Education Reform Industry targets students, parents and teachers of Clark Elementary School

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Three days ago, in a post entitled NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain, Wait What? readers learned of an apparent deal by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and his senior staff to turn over Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to a major Washington D.C. based charter school management company despite the fact that the Clark Turnaround Committee, which is made up of local parents, teachers, administrators and Hartford residents, hadn’t even begun to identify which of five possible turnaround models they were interested in pursuing.

Out-going Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto “nominated” Hartford’s Clark Elementary school for Governor Malloy’s “Commissioner’s Network” turnaround program.

State law requires that when a school is accepted as a Commissioner’s Network School, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor must defer to the recommendations of the local Turnaround Committee except in extreme circumstances where the Turnaround Committee fails to adopt a turnaround plan or the plan is so inadequate that the Commissioner must take total control of the school.

But according to multiple sources within Pryor’s Office and in the Hartford Board of Education central office, Pryor and his sidekick, Turnaround Director Morgan Barth, have already decided to give Hartford’s Clark School to the Friendship Charter School chain, regardless of what the Clark Turnaround Committee may choose.

The Friendship Public Charter School chain is made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another four schools that the company runs in Baltimore, Maryland.

Late yesterday, Hartford Courant reporter Vanessa De La Torre reported that a group of Clark parents, educators and administrators were flying to Washington D.C. to visit Friendship Charter Schools.  Apparently plans are already in place for Friendship Charter Schools to come to Connecticut in the next week or two.

In the Hartford Courant entitled Hartford Parents, Educators Visit D.C. Charter School, the Courant reported;

A 14-person delegation from Hartford that included six parents from Clark, two teachers, the principal and a district administrator flew out of Bradley International Airport Tuesday night and spent Wednesday visiting two sites of the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.

The trip is research, they said. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor has chosen Clark, a North End neighborhood school that has struggled with low test scores and chronic absenteeism, as a candidate to enter the state Commissioner’s Network after this academic year.

A state-mandated committee for Clark is now under deadline to create a detailed “turnaround” plan by April. That means the panel, which includes two union-appointed teachers, is rushing to explore school models that might best help Clark and its groups of students who are learning English or have special needs, said Soto, one of the committee’s parent members.

However, highlighting the corrosive power of the corporate education reform industry, the most bizarre part of the entire story is revealed when the Courant article added:

Hartford school board Chairman Matthew Poland denied this week that any school model is a favorite. So did community organizer Mayra Esquilin, executive director of Hartford Areas Rally Together, which received a $24,000 contract from the school system to guide Clark parents and community members through the turnaround process.

HART, the school system and the reform advocacy group Achieve Hartford! Funded the short trip to Washington, Esquilin said. The group was scheduled to return Wednesday night.

What the article didn’t fully explain is that although Superintendent Kishimoto hired the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together to “guide Clark parents and community members through the turnaround process,” Mayra Esquilin has repeatedly shown that she has a major conflict of interest in the entire situation.

Mayra Esquilin is not only the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART), but she is also a member Achieve Hartford’s Board of Directors.

Achieve Hartford Inc. is not only paying for the airfare and hotel accommodations for the 14 members of the Clark Turnaround Committee to fly to Washington, but the corporate lobbying group has been one of the biggest supporters of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s public school privatization efforts.

Esquilin and Achieve Hartford Inc. not only supported Superintendent Kishimoto’s failed attempt to close Clark Elementary and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc. but also supported the outrageous and potentially illegal attempt to hand S.A.N.D. Elementary School over to Steve Perry’s private charter school company as part of a that secret Sheff lawsuit deal.

As the Hartford Courant reported previously, Esquilin was quoted as saying “that she and others canvassed the neighborhood over the past few days and found many parents who were uninformed — and in some cases, misinformed — about the SAND proposal.”

It is beyond incredible that the individual and corporate-funded advocacy group that supported destroying Clark and S.A.N.D elementary are now “guiding” Clark parents, teachers and community members through the turnaround process.

Talk about the foxes guarding the chicken hen-house.

And worse, the entire process may very well be short circuited if Stefan Pryor has already decided to hand the school over to an out-of-state charter management company.

Meanwhile, who funds Achieve Hartford Inc.?

According to Achieve Hartford’s own website, the education reform advocacy group is funded by some of the most powerful corporate education reform industry companies in the country including the Aetna, Prudential, Travelers, Bank of America, ING, The Phoenix and Metro-Hartford Alliance.

The potential for serious and illegal conflicts of interests are so great that it is hard to imagine that even these companies would risk supporting such an inappropriate use of their donations by Achieve Hartford Inc.

The extensive list of potential ethics violations will undoubtedly keep the Connecticut’s Ethics Commission and Hartford’s Ethics Commission busy.

For an example of Achieve Hartford’s conflict of interest read the newsletter article that can be found via the following link:  http://www.achievehartford.org/upload/files/10-31-13-EducationMattersEXTRA.pdf?utm_source=October+31%2C+2013+Edition&utm_campaign=2-16EM&utm_medium=archive

For the Hartford Courant article go to: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-clark-school-0213-20140212,0,6213104.story

Steve Perry, the reader known as “Reality Ed” and disaster known as Capital Prep

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As Wait, Wait? has investigated the allegations associated with Capital Prep Steve Perry and the potential violations of federal and state laws and Hartford regulations and policies at Capital Prep, readers have become accustomed to the constant comments and attacks from Steve Perry or one or more of his supporters.

Over the past few months close to 150 comments have been posted by an individual or individuals associated with Steve Perry.  Many of these comments have been posted during school hours.

The person or persons commenting have used pseudonyms like Reality Ed, Hartfordtruth, just saying, Wait? what…, reality, uhart, Really, to tell the truth, really concerned, concerned, 2 days?, dogs?, FOI, Just saying and other fake names.

While most have been sent from a computer with the IP Address 67.186.139.152, the individual or individuals have used a number of different computers to send their messages.

Reality Ed, along with Hartford Truth, have been one of the most regular pseudonyms used

Reality Ed has used a computer with the IP Address (67.186.139.152) nineteen times.  This IP Address uses Comcast Internet Service.  This computer is also the favorite of the person who uses the pseudonym Hartford Truth.

Reality Ed has also used IP Address (64.134.64.249) four times.   This IP Address is an ATT Wireless Service. (Coincidently Perry has a blackberry with ATT that he used in repeated secret communications with Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor).

Reality Ed has used IP Address (64.134.65.105) three times.  This IP Address uses a different ATT Wireless Service.

Reality Ed has used also used a computer with the IP Address (64.251.55.234) on one occasion.  This IP Address is located at a Hartford Public School.

And Reality Ed has used the IP Address (64.251.55.239) at least two times.  This IP Address is also located at a Hartford Public School

This morning, at 7:34 am, Reality Ed returned to hurl an insult at another Wait, What? Reader.  This time Reality ED once again used the same Hartford Public School IP Address of 64.251.55.239.  (You can see the information below).

Superintendent Kishimoto needs to stop covering up for Steven Perry and conduct a proper investigation and take disciplinary against Perry and others who are violating Board of Education policies and potentially state laws.

If Kishimoto fails to act, the police need to step in and take over the task she is legally responsible to do.

For those who don’t know the background, here are some of the Wait, What? posts to read;

Is Hartford forgoing its ethics policy for Capital Prep Steve Perry?

Capital Prep “Table of Shame” Steve Perry on the notion of “Professional Responsibility to Students.”

No one is above the law, not even Capital Prep Steve Perry (a re-cap)

Principal Steve Perry, you just don’t get it – it’s the double standard that is so offensive!

A look at Steve Perry’s record of absenteeism and use of social media to bully others

Hey Steve Perry – Tell us about Capital Prep’s “Table of Shame”

NEWS FLASH: Steve Perry’s use of private email account will not shield public’s right to know

Hartford, Steve Perry and his threat make the Washington Post

Update: “Strap up [my gun], there will be head injuries” (Steve Perry 11/20/13)

 

64.251.55.239 – Geo Information
IP Address 64.251.55.239
Host 64.251.55.239
Location  US, United States
City Hartford, CT 06106
Organization Hartford Public Schools
ISP State of Connecticut
AS Number AS22742 State of Connecticut
Latitude 41°74’24” North
Longitude 72°69’05” West
Distance 7427.33 km (4615.13 miles)

NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain

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Sources close to Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor report that the Charter School loving Commissioner of Education has committed to give Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Friendship Charter Schools Inc., a major charter school management company based in Washington, D.C.

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education recently announced that he has “accepted” Hartford’s Clark Elementary School into the Connecticut State Department of Education’s “Commissioner’s Network.”

Although the law requires an inclusive “turnaround” process that is supposed to include local parents, teachers, school officials and community members, multiple sources, including one close to Stefan Pryor, report that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education has already decided that the final “Clark School Turnaround Plan” MUST be to hand the day-to-day operation of the Hartford elementary school over to Friendship Public Charter School Inc.

The Friendship Public Charter School chain is made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another four schools that the company runs in Baltimore, Maryland.

Donald Hense, who is the Founder and Chairman of Friendship Public Charter Schools Inc., is a long time charter school advocate.  In 2011, Hense was an inductee into “the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame” at the annual meeting of the National Charter Schools Conference.

According to Internal Revenue Service reports filed in 2011, Friendship Charter School Inc. provided Hense with a compensation package of approximately $300,000.

In that year, the company had revenues of $71 million and expenditures of about $67 million.  Of its revenue, $60 million came from tuition fees paid by the city governments of Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland and another $9 million came from other government grants.

Like many charter school management companies, the Friendship Charter Schools Board of Directors is made up of corporate education reform industry executives and their allies.

The Friendship Charter School Inc. Board includes Gregory Prince (President, Educational Services Associates), Carol Thompson Cole (President & CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners), Deborah McGriff (Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund), Chris Whittle  (an education entrepreneur who founded the ill-fated Edison Schools and now serves as the chief executive officer of Avenues: The World School, “a planned international system of independent pre-K-12 schools) and Kevin P. Chavous (CEO of the Chavous Group, an education reform consulting  and public relations group).

The President of Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) not only serves on the Board of Friendship Schools, but the education reform investment company has also played a major role in funding Friendship Schools and its aggressive expansion plans.  Venture Philanthropy Partners also invests in a variety of other charter school management companies including KIPP.  KIPP owns and operates a chain of 141 charter schools in 20 states.

Friendship Schools is also closely associated with the NewSchools Venture Fund, a corporate funded financial investment company that is “committed to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs.”

In the “small world” department, one the NewSchools Venture Fund Board members includes none-other-than Jonathan Sackler, who played a vital role in the creation of Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s Achievement First charter school management company and is responsible for the creation of ConnCAN and 50 CAN.  Sackler and his wife are two of Governor Malloy’s biggest campaign contributors having donated the maximum allowable amount of $10,000 each.

Assuming Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is successful in forcing Hartford to turn Clark Elementary School over to the Friendship Public Charter School Inc.; Hartford will be home to yet another “no excuses” school that is widely known for its harsh disciplinary policies.

One of the Friendship Public Charter Schools made the news in 2012 when a Washington D.C. television station ran the story entitled,  “Teacher at Friendship Public Charter School Accused of Taping Visually Impaired Student To Chair; Teacher has been placed on administrative leave.”

According to the media report;

“A teacher at Friendship Public Charter School has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly taping a nine-year-old visually impaired student to a chair.

The alleged incident happened Wednesday afternoon during an after school tutoring program at the Friendship Blow Pierce Junior Academy Campus in Northeast.

Christian Washington, a fourth grade student, says he asked his teacher if he could get up, and when he did for a second time, the teacher first threatened to tape him to his chair, and then did. Washington says he was wrapped with the tape several times around his chest and his legs. He says he was embarrassed.

“She was laughing. Everybody in the class was laughing at me,” Washington says…

No doubt about it, the Malloy/Pryor “we know best” strategy of privatization of our public schools continues to be the cornerstone of Malloy’s education reform policies.

Hello CT and Hartford officials… Is there anyone who will confront the lawbreakers?

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Are there any elected or appointed official in Connecticut who have the courage and conviction to actually ensure the laws of this state are equitably enforced?

Student-athlete recruitment by interdistrict magnet schools such as Capital Prep Magnet Schools is illegal in Connecticut.  (For example, see Sec. 10-220d.of the Connecticut General Statues).

According to the Connecticut State Department of Education, “All eligible applicants are either offered a placement or placed on a waitlist for Regional School Choice schools and programs through a random lottery process.”

Based on state law and state regulations, “The RSCO lottery is the computer-based method that places students who have submitted a complete and on-time application to available RSCO schools and programs. The Connecticut State Department of Education manages the RSCO lottery process.”

By law, the lottery process for magnet schools MUST BE random.

Magnet schools ARE NOT ALLOWED to give any preference to student-athletes.

When reading the following information about Steve Perry Capital Prep Magnet School, ask yourself:

Did Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, and the State Department of Education, know about these extremely serious allegations of illegal activities related to Capital Prep’s  lottery and student-athlete recruitment techniques.  If they knew, what actions did they take to prevent Capital Prep from engaging in these alleged violations?  If they did not know, how is that possible when complaints were made and full-fledged independent investigations conducted that they did not know?

At the same time, considering Capital Prep Magnet School is owned and operated by the Hartford Board of Education, did Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and the Hartford Board of Education, including Mayor Pedro Segarra, know about these extremely serious allegations of illegal activities related to Capital Prep’s  lottery and student-athlete recruitment techniques.  As stated above, if they knew, what actions did they take to prevent Capital Prep from engaging in these alleged violations?  If they did not know, how is that possible when complaints were made and full-fledged independent investigations conducted that they did not know?

The bottom line for Connecticut and Hartford officials is there anyone who will confront the lawbreakers?

Did Capital Prep corrupt School Choice Lottery process to enroll student-athletes?

Last August, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference stepped in to investigate serious allegations of inappropriate even illegal, recruitment of student-athletes by Capital Prep Magnet School.

The CIAC Board of Control authorized an independent investigation and then met to review and act upon the recruitment investigation reports that had been lodged against Capital Preparatory School.

In a letter dated August 23, 2013 the Associate Executive Director of CIAC wrote to Capital Prep Principal Steven Perry on behalf of the CIAC Board of Control.

The letter included the following passages:

“….the Board expressed serious concerns about two issues both of which could be viewed as a form of recruitment.

It appears that student-athletes involved may have been admitted to the school through other than the lottery process and may have been given special preference because they were athletes.

Allowing student-athletes from another school to attend conditioning sessions prior to attend the school is not in the spirit of CIAC rules and gives the appearance that recruitment was taking place.

  • The Board of Control expects that Capital Preparatory School will follow all procedures set forth by the State School Lottery Office for admission for the applicants and no special treatment or preference will be given to any student due to their athletic talent.
  • Additionally, all procedures for “wait list” students be followed and no preference be given to any student-athlete.  Any future complaints regarding the admissions process will necessitate the school producing documents from the State Lottery Office that substantiate all students were properly admitted through the lottery process or wait list procedures.

Furthermore, the Board expects that Capital Preparatory School will inform all coaches, volunteer or otherwise, that students from other schools may not be invited to participate in any conditioning sessions with Capital Preparatory school teams prior to the student officially entering the school.

As agreed….all expenses associated with the investigation will be bourne (sic) by Capital Preparatory School.  Enclosed is an invoice for the expenses related to the investigation…”

This CIAC letter raises many important questions.

Are there any elected or appointed official in Connecticut who have the courage and conviction to actually ensure the laws of this state are equitably enforced?

Breaking News: Citizens prevented from addressing Hartford Board of Education on Steve Perry

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At tonight’s Hartford Board of Education meeting, the outgoing Chairman of the Hartford Board of Education, Matt Poland, used a procedural maneuver to prevent Hartford parents and other concerned citizens from addressing the Board about Capital Magnet School Principal Steve Perry prior to the Board’s scheduled executive session on Perry.

Claiming that citizens could only address “action items” on the agenda and that the Board’s executive session wasn’t an “action item,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s hand-picked chairman effectively prevent citizens from discussing their concerns about Perry.

Hats off to Mayor Segarra, Chairman Poland and Superintendent Kishimoto for effectively destroying the right of the citizens of Hartford and Connecticut from addressing their representatives.

Their actions speak volumes about the unholy power of the corporate education reform industry and its disciples.

NEWS FLASH: Did Capital Prep corrupt School Choice Lottery process to enroll student-athletes.

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Last August, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference stepped in to investigate serious allegations of inappropriate even illegal, recruitment of student-athletes by Capital Prep Magnet School.

The CIAC Board of Control authorized an independent investigation and then met to review and act upon the recruitment investigation reports that had been lodged against Capital Preparatory School.

In a letter dated August 23, 2013 the Associate Executive Director of CIAC wrote to Capital Prep Principal Steven Perry on behalf of the CIAC Board of Control.

The letter included the following passages:

“….the Board expressed serious concerns about two issues both of which could be viewed as a form of recruitment.

  1. It appears that student-athletes involved may have been admitted to the school through other than the lottery process and may have been given special preference because they were athletes. 
  1. Allowing student-athletes from another school to attend conditioning sessions prior to attend the school is not in the spirit of CIAC rules and gives the appearance that recruitment was taking place.

The Board of Control expects that Capital Preparatory School will follow all procedures set forth by the State School Lottery Office for admission for the applicants and no special treatment or preference will be given to any student due to their athletic talent.  Additionally, all procedures for “wait list” students be followed and no preference be given to any student-athlete.  Any future complaints regarding the admissions process will necessitate the school producing documents from the State Lottery Office that substantiate all students were properly admitted through the lottery process or wait list procedures.

Furthermore, the Board expects that Capital Preparatory School will inform all coaches, volunteer or otherwise, that students from other schools may not be invited to participate in any conditioning sessions with Capital Preparatory school teams prior to the student officially entering the school.

As agreed….all expenses associated with the investigation will be bourne (sic) by Capital Preparatory School.  Enclosed is an invoice for the expenses related to the investigation…”

This CIAC letter raises many important questions.

What were the purported preferences given to student athletes and was the Hartford Superintendent, Hartford Board of Education, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education and State Department of Education aware of this investigation and corresponding reports and letters?

If the Hartford Superintendent Kishimoto knew about this investigation, what action did she take to ensure Capital Prep follows state laws, regulations and rules?

If the Hartford Board of Education was briefed about what appear to be extremely serious allegations against Capital Prep, what steps did the Board take to ensure Capital Prep follows state laws, regulations and rules?

And finally, if the State Department of Education and its Office of School Choice knew about this report and the related allegations, what steps have they taken to investigate Capital Prep’s potential violation of state laws, regulations and rules.

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