Setting the record straight on Adamowski and Hartford

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Robert Cotto Jr. is a member of the Hartford Board of Education.  He is also a leading academic expert on education policy in Connecticut.  His articles have appeared in numerous publications and his writing and work can be regularly found in the Hartford Courant, CT Mirror and CT NewsJunkie.

Having seen witnessed Mr. Adamowski’s time in Hartford first-hand and written extensively about the challenges facing Hartford’s public school system, Robert Cotto Jr. sent the following letter to the Norwalk Board of Education today.

Letter to Norwalk Board of Education (By Robert Cotto, Jr. June 16, 2015)

This letter is sent in my capacity as an individual and do not represent the views of any organization I am involved in.  The views are my own.

Dear members of the Norwalk Board of Education,

Several newspapers recently reported that the Norwalk Board of Education would be hiring a former Superintendent of the Hartford Public Schools (HPS). As a Hartford Board of Education member since 2010 and an educational researcher, I write to raise concerns about claims made about the Hartford Public Schools between 2006 and 2011.

A press release from the Norwalk Board of Education suggests that HPS improved test results and graduation rates because of a change in policies and a new superintendent in 2006. It is true that HPS embarked on a policy of expanded school choice and hyper-accountability. This included closing schools and reopening them as themed academies.

However, there is little evidence that these policies alone resulted in improved achievement and graduation rates. As I wrote in The Hartford Courant in 2011, there was a mixed result from these policies – at best. Most importantly, the apparent “increases” only began when testing and graduation policies changed to artificially inflate this data.

Hartford’s “historic” test result increases only began when low-income, Black, and Latino students with disabilities were removed from regular tests and allowed to participate in a separate modified assessment in 2009. By 2011, 10% or more of all Hartford students, all with disabilities, were selected for a separate test. While this was happening, the HPS superintendent and administrators took credit. They also took bonus money for the subsequent increases, caused in large part by removing these kids.

I have written extensively on this issue. You can read my Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant, my report for CT Voices for Children, and my TEDx Talk at Central CT State University on the issue. This is not speculation, but fact.

Hartford’s graduation rate also has a number of question marks. Between 2006 and 2011, several policies changed that inflated graduation rates. First, the formula changed to calculate graduation rates. This new formula has excluded hundreds of Black and Latino students. They have been transferred out of their cohorts, and effectively removed from all calculations.

Second, online credit recovery and the policy of mandatory minimum grade of 55% inflated graduation rates. Online credit recovery, required by State law in 2010, meant that students that did not pass a course the first time were allowed to take the course online instead.

Hartford’s “F-55″ rule mandated that a student failing a quarter or semester would get a 55% percent. With this rule, a student could earn a 75% in one quarter and pass the rest of the course, even without doing any work or even showing up to class. The Hartford Board of Education never approved these changes for online credit recovery and the “F-55” policy.

The information is not new, but ignored. Elected board members in Hartford raised concerns about both the test scores and graduation rates with little response from the Superintendent or his successor. Interestingly, the video of the meeting in early 2011 where Board members confronted the superintendent about the test inflation was reported as “damaged”. This was the only missing or damaged meeting video in my six years of service.

Rather than outright success, much of what happened in Hartford can be explained by these data illusions. Also, the tremendous State investment in school choice, particularly magnet schools, under the Sheff v. O’Neill agreement has played a major role.

The Hartford Public Schools are still trying to recover from the considerable damage caused by the school “turnarounds” started in 2006 and the unregulated school choice system. Our district is in as much or more financial distress with the expansion of school choice programs beyond our ability to support them. Many of the “turnaround” schools have experienced their second closure and reopening. In many of the Sheff magnet schools and most of our non-magnet schools, our staff still struggles to meet the needs of all children. Even former proponents of these policies have come to question their viability and performance.

I believe deeply in the ability of our city’s children and families, mostly Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino folk, to succeed academically and thrive in life. That is what we have been doing for hundreds of years with substantially unequal and separate opportunities in education and the economy. Yet, the limited resources that sustained our Black and Latino communities are now diminished, dismantled, privatized, or provided to only selected students. These resources included broad academic curriculum offerings, sports, special education services, bilingual education, and libraries.

While you are free to make the decision that is best for Norwalk, I would recommend not to make that decision based on discredited claims about Hartford. What happened from 2006-11 in Hartford may have helped some kids, but came along with further marginalization of the most vulnerable children and families in our city. In Hartford, we are still working for equitable opportunity.

Sincerely
Robert Cotto, Jr.

Member, Hartford Board of Education

– See more at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2015/06/16/letter-to-norwalk-board-of-education/#sthash.6WmgJGGa.dpuf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just check out the site: 

CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS

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

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

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

Oh and special word to Connecticut’s state legislators;

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

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

 Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry

“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is worth noting though that while Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed cutting state funding for Connecticut’s public schools by more than $70 million, Malloy is has also asked the Connecticut General Assembly to approve a new state budget that would increase the amount of taxpayer funds diverted to charter schools by more than 25 percent over the next two years. More

Htfd mayoral candidate Luke Bronin says plow streets better!

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In what would undoubtedly make a great segment on the Daily Show, Luke Bronin, Governor Dannel Malloy’s former top lawyer turned mayoral wannabe “blasted” the City of Hartford for not doing enough to plow the streets of Hartford following this week’s winter storm.

Bronin, who grew up  in Greenwich, attended the prestigious Philips Exeter Academy ($48,000 per year), as well as Yale and Oxford universities (more like $75,000 per year), moved from Washington D.C. to Hartford about two years ago when Malloy appointed him to serve as the Governor’s chief counsel and top legal adviser.

Although Bronin has no experience in local government, let alone running a diverse, urban city like Hartford, Bronin recently set up a campaign committee, a campaign website and is now running to become Hartford’s next mayor.

Candidate Bronin began his campaign by telling FOX CT this week,

“[Hartford] Roads weren’t plowed all the way to the side, snow mounds in crosswalks, roads not treated – simple stuff like that…”

Later in the day Bronin even issued a “press statement,” proclaiming,

“With more snow on the way this week, the people of Hartford should demand that the mayor more effectively deploy city resources to ensure that people can get to work and school and that pedestrians can walk safely in Hartford.”

Adding that it was Mayor Pedro Segarra’s fault, Bronin told the Hartford Courant,

“It is stunning to me that the Mayor only budgeted for three storms, and that admission explains why Hartford’s plowing and snow removal has been worse than any other city or town around us.  Sure, we’ve gotten a lot of snow this year, but we’ve gotten a lot of snow each of the last few years.  To budget for only three storms is irresponsible.  Under-budgeting is a gimmick that the people of Hartford and Hartford’s businesses have to pay for in a different way — in the form of impassible sidewalks, one-lane streets, traffic jams, and dangerous road conditions.”

Wait, What? –  “Under-budgeting is a gimmick that the people of Hartford and Hartford’s businesses have to pay for…”

This comes from the guy who spent the two last two years shilling for Governor Dannel Malloy who, despite an obvious and growing state budget deficit, spent his entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign lying to the voters of Connecticut by claiming there was no budget deficit, nor would there be one.

You mean Luke Bronin actually said … “Under-budgeting is a gimmick that the people of Hartford and Hartford’s businesses have to pay for…”?

This from a man whose boss “inherited” a $3.7 billion state deficit, implemented the largest tax increase in Connecticut history that disproportionately hit the middle class while coddling the rich, has consistently claimed to have put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, and yet – after four years in office – has created a situation in which Connecticut State Government faces a $1.4 billion deficit next year, more than a $1.6 billion deficit the year after that and a total budget shortfall in excess of $5 billion over the next three years?

If Bronin has learned anything in his two years in Connecticut State government it should have been that the gimmick of “under-budgeting” is Governor Malloy’s greatest legacy to date.

But Luke Bronin says “It is time to get Hartford moving again” and he is the man to do it.

According to his campaign website,

“Luke is a father, a husband, a veteran, an attorney, and a committed public servant — who is running for Mayor to get Hartford working again — for all of Hartford’s residents.”

As proof of his commitment to the people of Hartford, the candidate’s website explains,

 “In 2012, they [Luke and his wife] bought a dilapidated townhouse, invested their savings to renovate it, and became more involved in Hartford’s civic life.  Luke proudly serves on the boards of the Hartford Public Library and the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture, two great Hartford institutions.

For the past two years, Luke had the privilege of serving as the General Counsel to Governor Dannel Malloy.  In that job more than any other, he learned what leadership can achieve.  He worked closely with an active, hands-on chief executive who raised the minimum wage, invested in education, reinvested in our cities, appointed the most diverse groups of judges in Connecticut’s history, and has committed himself to achieving meaningful, comprehensive criminal justice reform.”

For more, you can check out “Vote Luke” at http://lukebronin.com/ or maybe, if we are really lucky, Jon Stewart will turn his wit and humor our way and highlight the absurdity of Luke Bronin’s run for Mayor of Hartford…before Stewart leaves the Daily Show.

Greenwich Yalie prepares to Save Hartford?

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Although Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has been one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest supporters and communities of color make up 85% of the population of Connecticut’s Capital City, Governor Dannel Malloy’s Greenwich raised, Yale and Oxford educated General Counsel, Luke Bronin, recently resigned his position as Malloy’s top lawyer to announce that he was “strongly considering” a run against Segarra in this year’s Hartford mayoral election.

What makes Bronin’s move so bizarre is that, as CTLatinoNews recently observed, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Governor Dannel Malloy are considered to be “longtime allies.”

Mayor Segarra has been particularly supportive of Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative and the Latino Mayor of Hartford has been at Malloy’s side throughout the Governor’s first term, including during Malloy’s competitive re-election campaign this past fall.

While Malloy calls Luke Bronin, “one of my closest advisers,” Bronin only arrived in Hartford in 2013 when he was appointed by Malloy to serve as General Counsel in the Governor’s Office.  It was at that time that Bronin, his wife and children moved from Washington D.C. to Hartford.

To say the Latino community is surprised and concerned by Bronin’s move would be an understatement.  Writing for CTLatinoNews, Bill Sarno recently reported,

For Latino leaders around the state, the announcement that the governor’s former top legal aide Luke Bronin is challenging incumbent Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for the Democratic nomination is raising red flags as to where the governor’s loyalty lies.  Not because of Bronin they say, but because of Governor  Malloy’s current stance of not getting involved in this race, which is being viewed as a quiet nod to his friend and as a betrayal to the state’s Latinos.”

The CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus is challenging the governor’s silence on the matter and it seems the gloves are off.  Its chair, Joseph Rodriguez, said, “We just had a tough statewide election and were successful because we rallied behind the governor, as did the mayor.  It will be unfortunate and a slap in the face to Mayor Segarra, if the Governor chooses not to partake in this primary.”

According to the CTLatinoNews article,

“[A]attempts to clarify Malloy’s position were referred by the governor’s staff to state party leaders who said that it is too early to comment on a possible primary that it is nine months away.  ‘At this time, the governor is focused on governing Connecticut. And when the time comes, the State Party will support the Democratic candidate for mayor,’ said Michael Mandell, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party.”

When Bronin announced that he was leaving his post as Malloy’s top attorney he told the Hartford Courant, “Many fellow Hartford residents have reached out and encouraged me to run for mayor and I’m strongly considering it.”

In addition to graduating with a philosophy degree from Yale University and a Law Degree from Yale Law School, Bronin, who is 35, is a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University in England.  Bronin is also “an accomplished singer and songwriter” and was the lead singer for a country band called Old No. 7.

Before joining the Malloy administration, Bronin worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2009 to 2013, finishing up as an assistant secretary of the treasury where his duties included managing policies related to terrorist financing.

According to his on-line LinkedIn biography, for nine months of the time he worked for the Treasury Department (from late 2010 through early 2011), Bronin was located at “ISAF HQ” in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The oblique reference to ISAF is apparently related to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a “NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan,” whose mission was reportedly to train members of the Afghan National Security Force, assist with the rebuilding of the Afghan government and engage various insurgent groups.

Before his time in the Middle East, Bronin spent seven months as an International Affairs Fellow in India for the Council on Foreign Relations and previous to that, after graduating from Yale Law School, Bronin worked as the Chief of Staff to the President & COO of the Hartford Insurance Company.

While Bronin contemplates a run for Mayor of Hartford, he has landed a job at the law firm of Hinckley Allen, a firm originally out of Providence, Rhode Island but with offices in New York City, Albany, Boston and in other New England cities.  Less than two years ago, the law firm of Levy &  Droney merged into Hinkley Allen.

As for the issue of running for Mayor while holding down his new job, Bronin told the Courant that, “The firm … has made clear that they support my commitment to public service and the Hartford community.”

Bronin, and his wife, Sara Bronin, who is also a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of the Yale Law School, moved to Hartford in 2013 and renovated a brownstone behind the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

Sara Bronin, an architect and lawyer, teaches at the University of Connecticut law school and is the managing principal of Voladizo LLC, a Connecticut consulting firm she founded in 2012.   Her biography explains that, “Sara Bronin is one of the country’s leading experts in the areas of sustainable design, renewable energy, urban development, and historic preservation.

Sara Bronin was appointed to the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission in 2013 by Mayor Segarra and became the Commission’s Chair in August 2014, where she is playing a leadership role in the development of the controversial Hartford stadium project.

Meanwhile, back in Connecticut politics, the CTLatinoNews article reported that Democratic Latino leaders are angry that Malloy’s political operatives are claiming that Malloy “can’t support a candidate at this time.”

The CTLatinoNews article adds,

“The notion that the governor can’t support a  candidate at this time is ‘simply untrue’ [CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus Chair] Rodriguez said.   Adding, ‘He gets involved when it benefits him.   Recently, he supported William Tong, his good friend who had not been endorsed for the nomination, but was a Democratic candidate in the primary.’   Malloy also supported then, Senator Harp before the primary.   While she was the party’s nominee, there were three other democrats vying for that seat.  This tells me the governor picks and chooses the municipal Democratic elections he wants to become involved in.’”

Hartford State Representative Minnie Gonzalez has also weighed in on the issue, telling CTLatinoNews, “Segarra was out there for him (Malloy) but it seems the governor is not supporting our mayor…It was Latinos that got him elected four years ago and again last year.”

The politics behind the politics of the situation in Hartford will undoubtedly become clearer in the months ahead as Luke Bronin moves forward with his possible run for mayor in Hartford.

You can read the complete CTLatinoNews article at: http://ctlatinonews.com/2015/01/18/latino-democratic-leaders-challenge-malloy-on-his-silence-in-supporting-segarra/

Steve Perry’s taxpayer subsidized “Education Truth Tour”

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

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

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

The week after that it is Indianapolis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, it wasn’t even Hartford’s Superintendent who “announced” the deal, it was Perry himself who told the Capital Prep parents that he and Hartford’ Superintendent had developed a plan that, “will establish ‘sister schools’ between Capital Prep and our new schools,” and that Perry himself would be playing a primary role in the selection of Capital Prep Magnet School’s new principal

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

While it remains unclear just what the Hartford Superintendent actually committed taxpayers to fund, Perry explained that his strategy, “will ensure that students, parents and staff from each of the schools can collaborate for the betterment of all children. Together we will create the professional learning community that so many of us wanted.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour

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

 

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

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When Steve Perry, who serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School Principal and is a full-time Hartford employee, submitted his application to the New York Board of Regents to open a new charter school in Harlem that would be owned and operated by his private charter school management company, Perry not only claimed that he controlled Hartford’s public school but that his business plan included receiving significant income from running Hartford’s Capital Prep.

The New York Board of Regents requires applicants to provide a corporate financial plan to ensure potential charter school operators have the financial resources to maintain their commitments concerning proposed new charter schools.

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

“FINANCIAL PLAN – Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

But of course, Perry’s private company has no contract to manage Capital Prep, let alone collect “excess management fees” from the Hartford Board of Education.

According to various sources knowledgeable about Perry’s backroom deals, when Hartford’s superintendent baulked at the notion of handing Capital Prep over to Perry’s private company, Perry proposed that he would “manage” Hartford ‘s Capital Prep for a token $1 a year.

If Perry’s offer was genuine and he intended to forgo the millions in management fees that he originally reported  for running Hartford’s Capital Prep,  then he was in direct violation of the plan he submitted to the New York Board of Regents.

Yet there is no evidence that he ever informed the New York Board of Regents that the financial plan he has submitted with his official application was no longer valid.

Alternatively, the $1 a year offer was nothing but a ruse and Perry still intended to collect millions of dollars from Hartford in the form of management fees and/or salaries for members of his company.  Nine of the ten top members of his private charter school management company are full-time administrators and teachers at Capital Prep Magnet School, making them full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.

Regardless of whether Perry was lying to the New York Board of Regents, earlier this week, Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez issued a letter to “Parents, Guardians and the staff of Capital Preparatory School that Principal Perry would be leaving at the end of the school year and a new Capital Prep principal would be selected utilizing Hartford Board of Education procedures and policies.

However, less than forty-eight hours later, Steve Perry had his own announcement for Capital Prep parents informing them that he and Hartford’s superintendent had developed a plan that, “will establish “sister schools” between Capital Prep and our new schools,” and that Perry himself would be playing a primary role in the selection of Capital Prep Magnet School’s new principal

Perry added in his letter to parents that his strategy “will ensure that students, parents and staff from each of the schools can collaborate for the betterment of all children. Together we will create the professional learning community that so many of us wanted.”

Perry’s announcement is silent on the financial deal between Perry’s private company and the Hartford Board of Education.

However, the charter school application approved by the New York Board of Regents continues to be based on Perry collecting millions of dollars in management fees from all three of “his schools,” which he lists as Hartford’s Capital Prep and his proposed charter schools in Bridgeport and Harlem Charter schools.

While Perry presents the situation as a “done deal,”  it is extremely unclear as to what authority Hartford’s superintendent of schools would have to cut such a deal with Perry and why the Hartford Board of education has not been informed of  Perry agreement with the superintendent nor has the board voted on this vague and  inappropriate scheme.

The one thing that is clear is that Mr. Perry’s sworn application to the New York Board of Regents, an application that the Regents used to approve his plan to open a charter school in Harlem, claims that Perry controls and will continue to control Hartford’s public school.

Perry’s New York application states,

“CPS [Perry’s private charter school management company] is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools.”

“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students.”

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

Rather than investigate and confront the serious legal and financial issues raised by Mr. Perry’s claims, with this supposed agreement in place the Hartford Superintendent and Board of Education appear to have thrown in their lot with Perry , thus becoming co-conspirators in an effort to walk away from their fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens of Hartford and Connecticut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read more at;

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

Breaking News – Capital Prep Steve Perry leaving Hartford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check back for more on this breaking story.

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

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

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

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

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

The Board of Regents voted,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Jonathan Pelto

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