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 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
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.
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;
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
According to their mandate, the Hartford Ethics Commission was created to, “Foster the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty, and fairness, and avoidance of improprieties by public servants, through enforcement of the City’s Code of Ethics.”
That mission will be put to the test with an official complaint that I’ll be filing with the Hartford Ethics Commission against Steve Perry and eight other Capital Prep Magnet School employees who have violated the policies of the Hartford Board of Education and have used their employment with the Hartford Board of Education and have engaged in what appears to be the crime of criminal copyright infringement.
As has been repeatedly reported here on Wait, What? the Hartford Board of Education’s policies clearly lay out the restrictions on employees who use materials or intellectual property owned by the City of Hartford for personal gain.
As part of those rules, the Hartford Board of Education policy reads;
“Materials created by staff at the instigation and/or direction of superiors and/or during work-time shall be considered “work made for hire” under Sections 201(b) and 101 of the Copyright Act and shall be solely the property of the school district.”
Despite those restrictions, Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry and eight other employees of Capital Prep Magnet School have engaged in an extensive series of activities aimed at selling concepts, materials and intellectual property that was developed as part of their duties as employees of a Hartford public school.
Steve Perry is a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education and serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School, a public school owned and operated by the Hartford Board of Education and located on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut. The public school is funded by federal, state and local funds.
But in 2012, Mr. Perry created a Connecticut company which he named “Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc.”
When forming the corporation, Mr. Perry’s Connecticut Secretary of the State filing reported that his company was located at his residence in Middletown, Connecticut. However, for purposes of the Internal Revenue Service, up until recently, Mr. Perry has been using the address of the public school in which he works.
Steve Perry and Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. have now submitted two applications to create privately run, but publicly funded charter schools, one in Bridgeport, Connecticut and one in Harlem, New York.
Although there is no funding in the Connecticut State Budget for an additional charter school in Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut is facing a $1.4 billion budget deficit next year, in April 2014, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education approved the application submitted by Perry and his company.
Even the press release issued by the State Department of Education at the time the application was approved highlighted the underlying issues and violations associated with Steve Perry’s on-going attempt to create a lucrative charter school management company using information that belongs to the City of Hartford.
The press release, dated April 2, 2014 read,
(HARTFORD, CT)— The Connecticut State Board of Education approved four new charter schools today, one in Stamford, two in Bridgeport, and one in New Haven.
“A second charter school in Bridgeport, Capital Prep Harbor School, is designed as a replica of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford.
However, as Commissioner Pryor and the State Department of Education knew, or should have known, neither Mr. Perry nor his company nor his associates have the legal right to “replicate” Capital Preparatory Magnet School.
A charter school application submitted to the New York Board of Regents, last summer, by Mr. Perry and his associates to open a charter school in Harlem, New York reveal the copyright violations in even greater details. (See: Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School Application.)
Throughout the application, and in the hearings, meetings and communications associated with his attempt to get approval for a Harlem charter school, Mr. Perry consistently claimed that he and his company were in the legal position to open a school similar to and affiliated with Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School. The application went so far as to report the Mr. Perry and his private company would “continue” to have an ownership interested in Hartford’s public school.
But as full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education, the copyright laws are extremely clear. Concepts, materials and intellectual property created by employees of a school district are the sole property of the school district, not the employees who may have helped develop them.
Using copyrighted materials for personal gain is an extremely serious offense. According to federal law, “A commercially motivated infringer can receive up to a five-year federal prison term and $250,000 in fines (17 U.S.C. § 506(a)), 18 U.S.C. § 2319).”
The following are just a few of the examples in Steve Perry’s Harlem, New York application where he and his associates claim to have the legal right to use concepts, materials and intellectual property that is actually owned by the City of Hartford.
“The founders of Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School (“Capital Prep Harlem”) seek the opportunity to replicate our successful flagship school, the Capital Preparatory Magnet School – Hartford, CT (“Capital Prep”), in New York City’s Community School District 5” (Page 2 of the pdf submitted to the New York Board of Regents.)
“CPS 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. (Page 4 of pdf)
“Capital Prep’s curriculum is being replicated in the form of the Capital Prep Harlem charter. It is a unique curriculum that has been created by the founders of Capital Prep in Hartford and will be implemented, monitored and measured by CPS. (Page 21 of pdf)
“Capital Prep Harlem’s program and curriculum designs are based on the internationally recognized, research-based model developed by the founders of Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS) and implemented over the past ten years at Capital Prep in Hartford, Connecticut…
‘Over the past two years, members of Capital Prep Harlem’s founding group have formally collaborated on this proposal through regular meetings and ongoing interim communications. CPS enlisted its founders, current teachers at Capital Prep in Hartford, and strategic consultants to codify the mission, vision and key design elements of the Capital Prep model and operationalize the educational philosophy of the school in order to facilitate replication and training.’ (Page 42 of the pdf)
Attachment 6a: CMO Information – “CPS 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. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first in CSD 5. Managing four schools in three cities that are within a two–hour drive of each other allows us to support the schools without having to hire completely new staff for each school.
Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students. The Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport Connecticut will have 765 students at full enrollment. Capital Prep Harlem will have 600 students in the next five years, and we hope to open a companion kindergarten to fifth grade school in Harlem that will serve another 600 students. (Page 180 of pdf)
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. Each founding member brought a unique background and set of skills to the process. (Page 180 of pdf)
It is important to note that the application then lists the founding members of Steve Perry’s charter management company and nine of the ten are full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education. The application also includes Perry’s corporate “management team” and two of the three individuals are full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education. (Page 183 of pdf)
Perry’s Harlem application also includes the following:
“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.
We are focused on running a right-sized CMO. Operating within a small geographic region affords us the opportunity to create efficiencies that will ensure that CPS staff can effectively support all three schools and the students therein.” (Page 188 of pdf)
The section reflects Perry’s belief that he owns and will continue to own Capital Prep and that he intends to put aside $500,000 a year in excess revenue from Capital Prep.
The application makes it clear that Steve Perry and his private company, Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc., along with those the other eight full-time Capital Prep employees, appear to violated fundamental elements of federal, state and local laws.
The time has come for appropriate agencies, including the Hartford Ethics Commission. to conduct substantive investigations and take the necessary legal actions to safeguard public resources.
As Wait, What? readers know, while employed as a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education, Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry has been engaged in an on-going effort to build a lucrative charter school chain using the name Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. and materials he and his senior staff developed while being paid with taxpayer funds by the City of Hartford.
Perry’s proposal is to open a chain of privately run, publically funded charter schools starting with a school in Bridgeport, Connecticut and one in Harlem, New York.
The proposals for both schools openly admitted that the plans were based on Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, that the materials used will be the same as those used at Capital Prep Magnet School and the management team that will run the Bridgeport and Harlem charter schools will be the same group of senior administrators and teachers that are presently running Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford.
The proposals even included many of the written materials that can be found on Capital Prep Magnet School’s present website.
But of course, Steve Perry and his team know perfectly well that such a move is blatantly illegal.
The law is very clear, materials and concepts developed by public employees during the course of their work belong to their employer – the government that pays them and its citizens.
Steve Perry and his employees know the law because it is clearly defined in the written policies of the Hartford Board of Education which states,
Materials created by staff at the instigation and/or direction of superiors and/or during work-time shall be considered “work made for hire” under Sections 201(b) and 101 of the Copyright Act and shall be solely the property of the school district.
It is also understood that educational materials created by an employee during the employee’s leisure hours when the employee is not fulfilling his/her contractual duties to the school district are the property of the employee
But those laws haven’t stopped Steve Perry or the government officials who are supporting his effort to achieve financial success.
With the support of Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, the State Board of Education approved Perry’s plan to open a charter school in Bridgeport next fall. The plan includes the fact that Perry’s private charter school company would start collecting a multi-million dollar “management fee.”
The State Board of Education approved Perry’s plan despite the fact that there is no money in the budget for any more privately run, but publically funded charter schools and the state of Connecticut is facing a massive deficit.
Last Friday, the pro-charter New York Board of Regents also approved a proposal allowing Steve Perry and his Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. to open a charter school in Harlem next fall.
Neither the Connecticut State Board of Education nor the New York Board of Regents took note of the fact that Perry did not have the legal authority to use the materials or concepts outlined in his proposals. According to that plan, Perry will collect a $2.5 million management fee per year, for the first five years.
While the initial issue is why officials are allowing Perry to break the law and steal materials and concepts that belong to the people of Hartford (it is called plagiarism), the second key question relates to how Perry’s ploy to open his charter school management chain would impact his role as head of Capital Prep Magnet School.
When the Connecticut State Board of Education was considering Perry plan to use his private company to open a charter school in Bridgeport, Perry said that he would be able to take on the task of opening and running a new school because he would be leaving Hartford.
However, in his proposal to open a charter school New York City, Perry told the New York Board of Regents that that he already owned the Hartford public school in which he work and revealed that his corporate business plan included making money from Hartford’s public school, as well as the yet to be opened Bridgeport charter school in the years to come.
Perry’s application explained:
“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.”
So is Steve Perry leaving Hartford Prep as he told the Connecticut State Board of Education or is he going to own Hartford Prep as he reported to the New York Board of Regents
Well now the truth is finally coming out…
Despite telling Connecticut state officials that he’d be giving up his role at Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School, Perry’s plan appears to be that he will take over private control of Hartford’s public Capital Prep Magnet School
In a letter this week to parents, Steve Perry said that he intends to keep full control of Hartford Capital Prep, apparently by convincing the Hartford Board of Education to allow him to turn it into a charter school or allow his private charter school company to run the school.
Perry told parents to join him at a meeting on Monday, November 24, 6pm in the Sheff Center to continue the discussion about the future of Capital Prep. He reported that, “joining us will be Jonathan Shaw and Oliver Barton who will meet with us on behalf of the Superintendent.”
At the same time, Perry wrote the following letter to parents,
From Dr. Perry:
Capital Prep is not going anywhere. We are simply expanding to two other cities. Neither students nor staff need to look for a new school, at all!
I have offered to continue to lead Capital Prep as we expand. We would oversee the daily operations, as we always have, as Capital Prep expands to Bridgeport and Harlem. The cost to Hartford for us, the founders of Capital Prep, to continue to operate our school would be $1.
Yes, for $1 our non profit has proposed to keep our school’s founders together but Hartford’s new superintendent Dr. Beth Narvaez and school board are not supporting our efforts to continue to run the school that we have made into one of the most successful in America. Their expectation is that at the end of this school year we walk away. At which time they will take responsibility for operating Capital Prep, starting with selecting a new principal.
Our parents, faculty and students have overwhelmingly supported our plan for continuity and expansion for years. Other Hartford schools have selected who and how their school will be operated. Yet the new superintendent, Dr. Beth Narvaez, and the board are saying Capital Prep will be treated differently. When we go to expand, they intend to take over our school.
The issue, therefore, is not if there will be a Capital Prep. It is who will run it? Either we, the family who have been doing so for over 10 years or they, the new superintendent and board. The question is not, should you look for a new school? The question is would you rather keep our family of educators together as we grow to include more children or would you rather be operated by Hartford Public Schools?
We are, and always will be, Capital Prep.
With deepest love,
Dr. Steve Perry
As far as Perry’s plan is concerned, the only possible hindrance would be if Connecticut Governor Malloy, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, the Connecticut Board of Education, the Hartford Board of Education, Connecticut’s Attorney General, Connecticut’s State Auditors or Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney decided to actually do their job and put an end to Perry’s outrageous game.
Of course, if they do… watch out…
Remember, Perry is the who, when he didn’t get his way last year, Tweeted,
Dr. Steve [email protected]“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.”
But of course, at the time, officials looked the other way and Perry got away with a Tweet that would have escorted any other school administrator, teacher or student to the door and into the hands of awaiting police officers.
Before this week’s snow storm hit, the Hartford Board of Education was scheduled to use their regular meeting to go into “executive session” to discuss Capital Preparatory Magnet School Principal Steve Perry.
The storm forced a postponement of the meeting until Monday, January 27th. The initial agenda for Monday’s meeting fails to state whether there will or will not be a closed-door meeting about Perry, but regardless, the Hartford Board of Education’s Perry problem is not going away. If they don’t hold an executive session on Monday one would certainly expect that the Board would take the matter up at the February meeting on February 18th or potentially add it to their February 4th workshop meeting.
Of course, as the Board of Education’s rules require, the public can address the Hartford Board of Education at either its January 27th rescheduled meeting or its February 18th meeting.
Over the course of the past few months a number of serious accusations have been made about by Perry and his job performance by former and present Capital Prep parents and teachers, as well as from members of the public.
Perry using his Twitter account to make threats that would have gotten a student or teacher arrested, suspended or fired, yet no action was taken by Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto or the Board of Education to date.
Although Perry is responsible for an 800 student school, he has missed approximately 20% of the school days during this academic year qualifying him as “excessively absent” and a “truant” under the State Department of Education’s policies concerning school attendance. If he was a student, the school would have been required to institute special efforts to try and get Perry back into the school.
To date, Perry has sent out more than 32,200 Tweets from his Twitter account, many during school hours. A conservative estimate is that Perry’s obsessive Tweeting while working (Tworking) has cost Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers in excess of $12,500 in wasted salary payments and benefits to Perry.
When Perry is at school and not Tweeting, he is often conducting media interviews to promote his private speaking business. The use of school time and resources to further his private company is a violation of Hartford ethics policies and state law.
Allegations continue to mount that Perry and Capital Prep are utterly failing to provide their special education students with the services required in each student’s IEPs (Individualized Education Plans). The reports suggest that Perry and the school are in gross violation of federal and state law. An independent investigation by the State of Connecticut and the Federal Government is needed, although there are new reports that such an investigation has already begun.
Parents and teachers report that abusive discipline policies continue at Capital Prep. Perry’s policies lead to students being forced to stand during entire class periods, forcing students to stand during lunch, forcing students to sit at the “Table of Shame” and even more serious allegations of abusive discipline policies.
Parents and teachers also report that bullying continues to run rampant at Capital Prep and that Perry’s failure to fulfill his legal duties under Federal and State bullying laws is only the tip of the iceberg. Direct reports and dozens of Tweets on the subject reveal that Perry has created an unhealthy workplace in which teachers and school staff are regularly bullied by Perry and his fellow school administrators.
And the list goes on… including allegations of telling selected parents to fill out applications in such a way as to ensure acceptance to the school or urging parents to falsify demographic information so that Capital Prep can collect extra public funds under the Sheff racial desegregation case and laws.
Undoubtedly many of these concerns will be raised in public testimony at next Monday’s Board of Education meeting and at every Hartford Board of Education meeting until the Superintendent and members of the Board of Education move to hold Steve Perry and Capital Prep responsible for its actions.