The Capital Prep Magnet School website informs supporters that they can make “tax-deductible” donations to the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund.
Donations can be made via a PayPal link or checks can be mailed to “The Capital Prep Scholarship Fund – 1304 Main Street – Hartford, CT 06103.” (Which is the school’s address).
Contributors are informed that “Every donation helps to give our students access to America’s top colleges.”
Unfortunately the PayPal account is not working. Clicking on the link brings up an error message that reads, “PayPal cannot process this transaction because of a problem with the seller’s website. Please contact the seller directly to resolve this problem.”
But according to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office there is NO corporate entity called the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund nor has the Internal Revenue Service ever designated any organization by that name a non-profit charity.
Furthermore, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection reports that the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund has never registered with that agency despite a state law that requires every charity to register.
The Capital Prep website, press releases posted to the Hartford Courant and a donation form from this past year’s 3rd Annual Capital Prep Scholarship Reception lists the contact person for the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund as Lalani Perry, Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry’s wife. Lalani Perry’s cell phone and private email are listed on the form for those seeking more information.
It is possible that the funds are run through an account at the Hartford Board of Education but the charity would still have had to register with the Department of Consumer Protection, something it has not done. Plus it’s hard to imagine that the City of Hartford would allow Perry’s wife to serve as the fundraiser, treasurer or solicitor for an account under his school’s control.
But people have definitely been writing checks to something called the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund.
When Capital Prep held its 3rd Annual Scholarship Reception last spring it collected ten thousand dollars for each Platinum Level sponsor. The 10,000 contributors included the Children First Foundation, Hybrid Insurance Group, the Knight Foundation and Travelers Insurance.
In addition, New Country Mercedes was a $5,000 Gold Level donor while $2,500 Scholar Level contributors included Hoffman Auto Corporation and TD Bank. Rounding off the list of corporate sponsors were the $1,000 Learner Level donors that included William Goss, Patrick James and CG Real Estate.
Sources close to Capital Prep report that this past spring event raised upwards toward $70,000.
In January 2012, the Hartford Courant reported that Capital Preparatory Magnet School’s 2nd annual Scholarship Fundraiser raised at least $90,000. That fundraiser featured none-other-than the great Bill Cosby.
According to the Hartford Courant story at the time, “more than 200 individuals and organizations have donated to this year’s scholarship campaign, including four “platinum” sponsors with $10,000 gifts in recent weeks: Travelers Insurance; United Technologies Corp.; Elizabeth and Dr. Bruce Bower of West Hartford, a retired endocrinologist; and Hybrid Insurance Group, a black-owned firm based in Hartford.”
The Courant added that, “The $50-a-ticket fundraiser at the school, called “An Evening With Dr. Cosby,” sold out three weeks ago and includes Soledad O’Brien of CNN, former NBA star Jalen Rose, education reformer Geoffrey Canada and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris as special guests.”
In an odd twist of fate, the Hartford Courant article quoted Earl O’Garro Jr., the president and chief executive officer of Hybrid Insurance. Hybrid Insurance is the corporation that received a special grant from the Malloy administration to move from Windsor to Hartford. O’Garro and Hybrid Insurance are now the focus of a major controversy and investigation concerning inappropriate contracting, relationships and payments with the City of Hartford.
But back in January 2012 O’Garro and Hybrid Insurance were riding high and O’Garro told the Courant that, “Those who have benefited from philanthropy should return the favor.”
Unfortunately there are no media reports about how much money Capital Prep raised at its inaugural scholarship reception back in 2011.
What is clear is that a significant amount of money has been raised over the past three years, potentially as much as $150,000 to $200,000 from the Capital Prep Scholarship receptions alone.
Capital Prep has reportedly conducted numerous other fundraising efforts as well.
What (or who) is the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund?
Why isn’t the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund registered with the Secretary of the State?
Why isn’t the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund registered with the Department of Consumer Protection as required by law?
And how does the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund claim to be able to accept “tax-deductible” donations when the Internal Revenue Service has never authorized a charity called the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund?
How have the funds been handled? How much was raised? How much money was spent? How much of the money was spent on administrative costs as opposed to actual scholarships? And did Perry or any of his family members receive any financial benefit from the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund?
There is also the nasty little question about what happens to all the donors who have deducted their donations on their taxes when the IRS discovers that the entity doesn’t actually have the authority to make the “tax-deductible” claim.
Then again, there is one other possibility.
It is a possibility that raises even more questions.
What if the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund is none-other-than CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS INCORPORATED which is the private company that Perry set up in his failed attempt to take control of Capital Prep and S.A.N.D. elementary school?
Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor were instrumental in recently putting together a secret deal that tried to hand Steve Perry and his private company financial and administrative control of two Hartford Public Schools and more than $15 million-a-year in public funds. Malloy’s State Department of Education was even going to sweeten the deal by providing up to $3 million in additional one-time revenues to facilitate the deal.
What if it turns out that it is not the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund that has been illegally raising funds from Capital Prep parents, as well as, Hartford businesses and community members, but it has been Perry’s Capital Preparatory School Incorporated.
Is there really no one in the top echelon of Hartford’s leadership structure who has wondered who is controlling that “fund” and where all that money is going?
Since the Hartford Board of Education seems unwilling to investigate the growing problems associated with Steve Perry and Capital Prep, let’s hope that some independent agency will step forward and determine whether state and federal laws are being violated.