Bridgeport, Corporate Welfare, Ethics, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Sarah Darer Littman Bridgeport, Connecticut Politics, Corporate Welfare, Ethics, Mayor Bill Finch, Sarah Darer Littman
As measured by the number of college graduates Connecticut is among the most educated states in the nation. As measured by per capital income Connecticut is wealthiest state in country, and if we were our own country we’d be one of the wealthiest and best educated countries in the world.
And yet there is a sickness that is increasingly evident in Connecticut politics. It takes the form of elected and appointed officials who display a level of arrogance, greed, entitlement, and what appears to be an growing level of outright corruption…in both political parties.
In Sarah Darer Littman’s latest MUST READ column entitled “The Environmental Racism of Bridgeport’s Carnival of Corruption” in this weekend’s CT Newsjunkie, Sarah Darer Littman shines the bright light of truth on a complex deal in which Bridgeport ’s political and corporate leaders are conspiring to move Bridgeport’s Harding High School on to a severely polluted superfund site in order to make room for Bridgeport Hospital’s expansion plans.
The political wheeling and dealing stretches from Bridgeport to Hartford and back again.
By the time their effort is over, the cost to Connecticut taxpayers will exceed $100 million or more, and that doesn’t even begin to count the cost to Bridgeport’s public school students, teachers and parents who are but pawns in the deceit that has become the hallmark of Connecticut’s political environment.
Sarah Darer Littman introduces her piece with the following,
If the window of government transparency in Connecticut has become foggy lately, in Bridgeport it’s turned into a funhouse mirror.
The latest to come from Mayor Bill Finch’s Carnival of Corruption was a vote Thursday evening to proceed with phase one of a deal to build a new Harding High School on 17.2 acres of a 78-acre brownfield site on Boston Avenue, currently owned by General Electric. This would enable Finch and his allies to sell the current Harding High site to Bridgeport Hospital.
According to federal law, a brownfield site refers to “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”
The aforementioned brownfield site is, according to a piece in the CT Post, “contaminated with lead, arsenic, petroleum hydrocarbons and volatile compounds.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers helpful information about School Siting Guidelines, and why they are so important:
“Children, particularly younger children, are uniquely at risk from environmental hazards. They eat, drink and breathe more in proportion to their body size than adults. In addition, environmental contaminants may affect children disproportionately because their immune, respiratory and other systems are not fully developed, and their growing organs are more easily harmed. This means they are more at risk for exposure to harmful chemicals found outside where they play and in the environment where they spend most of their time — school and home.”
As might be expected, parents and those representing the community have concerns — especially since most of the process for this deal (like so much of what goes on in Bridgeport) has taken place behind closed doors. Indeed, in the minutes from the Bridgeport School Building Committee meeting on January 3, 2013, Finch Deputy Chief of Staff Ruben Felipe reports that GE asked the administration to keep their conversations confidential. Thus both the sunlight and the community were kept out. Helping to keep things under wraps was the fact that the School Building Committee failed to file their statutory notices with the town clerk’s office until February 2014, evidenced by this email from Frances Ortiz, assistant City Clerk.
There’s been some gob smacking chicanery involved, because, let’s face it, this wouldn’t be Bridgeport if there weren’t.
A petition to the City of Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission was filed in the name of the City of Bridgeport Board of Education (File 13-74). It was signed on Dec. 3, 2013, by John Eberle of Stantec Consulting Services and on Dec. 18, 2013, by Marian Whiteman, executive counsel for Transactions & Brownfields at General Electric.
On Jan. 13, 2014, Sauda Baraka, chair of the Bridgeport Board of Education (in whose name the Planning Petition was apparently being made) wrote to Melville T. Riley, Jr, the acting chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, asking that the item not go forward with a public hearing for the application because the education board hadn’t voted to approve a site plan nor a special permit concerning that property. In what is a reflection of the incredibly sad state of affairs in Mayor Bill Finch’s Bridgeport, she was forced to ask the Planning Commission for copies of any application filed on the behalf of the Board of Education. How ridiculous is it that an elected Board of Education should have to ask another city body for copies of planning applications being filed in its name?
Probably as a result of Baraka’s letter, the planning application was withdrawn from the Jan. 13 meeting.
But by Jan. 16, the Finch administration was able to work magic with fairy dust — or White Out — and Lo! The exact same application with the exact same signatures (on the original you can see the correction fluid) and now guess what? It reads “City of Bridgeport School Building Committee”! Suggested new campaign slogan for Bill Finch: “If you can’t beat ‘em, erase them!”
And Sarah Darer Littman’s column goes on from there with some of the most disturbing elements of the story yet to come.
You can read her whole column at via the following link,
As you read the piece ask yourself, is this Connecticut our citizens deserve?
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Hartford, Kenneth Moales, Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Bridgeport, Capital Prep Charter School, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Hartford, Kenneth Moales Jr., Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry
Steve Perry calls himself American’s most trusted educator.
While Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers pay him a full-time salary and benefits to serve as the principal of the Hartford School System’s Capital Prep Magnet School, Perry skips about 20% of the school days so that he can travel the country giving speeches for hire.
When Perry does show up for work he spends an inordinate amount of his time promoting his speaking business through media interviews and his obsessive use of Twitter while on public time.
Most recently, Perry has been busy pushing a plan to use his private company to open up a charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Local support for his plan comes from corporate education reform industry ally Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Finch’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Moales. Moales tried and failed to get his own charter school last year, but has used his position on the Bridgeport Board of Education to push the charter school agenda.
Just this past Thursday, Steve Perry was out-of-state giving a speech and holding a book signing session at Winston Salem State University.
The Thursday before Perry was the keynote speaker at a conference at Kent State University in Ohio.
For that one, Perry was introduced at an author, principal and CNN education contributor.
The description went on to say that, “Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., which has been cited by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top schools in the country. Capital Prep has sent 100 percent of its predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.”
But of course, that statement is patently untrue.
Capital Prep HAS NOT sent 100% of its graduates to four year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.
Today Perry is northern Virginia to give the keynote address at the annual VABHMA Gala Reception.
And this time Perry’s bio has been expanded to proclaim that he is not only an educator and author, but that he is also a therapist.
The event biography leads with the following:
Dr. Steve Perry’s heart pumps passion and produces positive change. Featured in CNN’s Black in America series, Dr. Perry is the most talked about innovative educator on the scene today.
Perry is the founder and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of the top schools in the country, Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital Prep has sent 100% of its predominantly low-income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.
100% of Capital Prep’s graduates have gone to four year colleges?
Despite the fact that falsifying and padding one’s resume has downed a number of politicians over the years, some individuals apparently continue to believe that they don’t have to live by the same standards, rules and laws that apply to the rest of us.
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Education Funding, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Bridgeport, Capital Prep Charter School, Charter Schools, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry
When Dan Malloy was running for governor he pledged to make adequate funding for Connecticut’s public schools a priority.
Instead Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education corporate education reform industry initiative of any Democratic governor in the country.
Rather than use state education funds to support local schools and take some of the pressure off local taxpayers, Malloy has used scarce public funds to push his own initiatives including implementing the absurd Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Testing scheme and an unfair and inappropriate teacher evaluation system.
Compounding the problem has been Malloy’s devotion to diverting money to Connecticut’s charter schools. In fact, the single largest beneficiary of Malloy’s charter school largesse has been Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that was co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
But Malloy and Pryor have been shoveling public funds to other charter school companies as well.
The charter school management company known as Jumoke Academy/FUSE has been given additional money and control of two neighborhood public schools. The executives of Jumoke Academy have been given management control of the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport. The Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke Academy/FUSE was even appointed to the Connecticut Board of Education by Governor Malloy.
Meanwhile, other charter school companies have already been approved or are seeking approval to open new schools in Connecticut.
Last month, nine new charter school applications were submitted to the State Department of Education.
Despite the inadequate funding for existing public schools and a projected $1 billion state deficit for the year following this November’s gubernatorial election, Malloy’s budget includes funding for at least two new charter schools.
A primary target for the expansion of charter schools has been Bridgeport, in part because Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch is considered a strong charter school advocate. Bridgeport already has four charter schools.
As the Connecticut Post recently reported;
“BRIDGEPORT — An outspoken Hartford magnet school principal, a Rhode Island education reform advocate and a longtime city teacher who also happens to be the mayor’s ex, all want the same thing: open the state’s next charter school here.
The three applications represent a third of nine applications received by the state to open charter schools this fall or next….”
The new plans include two schools prepared to open next fall if they receive approval — the Capital Prep Harbor School, modeled after a Hartford magnet school run by Stephen Perry and the STEAM Academy for Girls, started by Claire Mastromonaco, a fifth-grade teacher at Johnson School, who is also the ex-wife of Mayor Bill Finch.
A third contender is Great Oaks Charter School, a school spearheaded by Maryellen Butke, founding director of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now.”
Charter school companies see Connecticut as a prime target for expansion because not only does the state give charter schools money for every student they take in, but the cost to transport those charter school students and the cost to provide them with special education services continues to be paid by the local school district.
The Connecticut Post article goes on to summarize the three new Bridgeport charter school proposals;
Charter School Proposal #1
Mastromonaco said she has always wanted to start a school for girls. A classroom teacher for 18 years, Mastromonaco also runs the Children’s Center for the Arts. Her background is in the arts, but she loves the sciences and math and said she sees too many of her female students lose confidence and “check out” by the time they reach middle school.
She said a single-gender school that focuses on science, math and the arts will help them more feel confident.
STEAM would open in the former Holy Rosary School near Washington Park with 108 pre-kindergarten through first-graders and grow to a 252 pre-K to fifth-grade school by its fifth year. The school would strive to be racially balanced, draw from the suburbs and city. Its preschool would be Montessori-based.
Christopher Finch, her son and a teacher in New York City, would serve on her governing board along with several Bridgeport educators and parents.
In a letter of support for STEAM, Bruce Ravage, director of Park City Prep, a charter school that has won permission to add a fifth grade, said Mastromonaco knows the student population well and is in a unique position to address its needs.”
Charter School Proposal #2
“Capital Prep Harbor School
Asked why he’d want to come to Bridgeport, Perry, a lightning rod for school reform issues, talks about the city’s waterfront location, proximity to New York City and its potential.
“Bridgeport has always been one of those cities you heard about,” Perry said. The charter school he would form here would be modeled after the public magnet school he has run in Hartford for nearly 10 years.
It would have a theme of social justice, a longer school day and year, require students to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities, and would strive — according to the 600-page application — to send all graduates to four-year colleges.
“Running it as a charter would be different,” said Perry. “It would create the opportunity for us to be more creative. Quite frankly, there are limits within the structure of a large school system. Even when people don’t want it to, it has to be the same. That sameness presents a challenge to schools like ours.”
Something else that is different is that Capital Preparatory Schools Inc., a private management company run by Perry, would get 10 percent of the fee, $2.5 million over the first five years of the contract. Perry said that is common when charter firms run more than one school. It also remains unclear how much the school would pay for rent.
The Harbor School application said the city has dedicated space in the Bridgeport Technology and Trade Center on Barnum Avenue and the proposed budget shows no rental expenses. The city, however, doesn’t own that property.
Among supporters of the plan are Kenneth Moales Jr., a member of the city school board.”
Charter School Proposal #3
Great Oaks would be a college preparatory school geared largely toward English language learners, who make up more than 13 percent of students in the district.
The school day would be long, stretching from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by after-school activities. The school year would be 200 days, compared to the normal 180 days a year.
There are already Great Oaks schools in New Jersey and New York, said Christina Grant, vice president of the Great Oaks Foundation, who acts a chief academic officer for both schools. The school would start with 100 sixth-graders and work its way up, providing two hours of individualized tutoring to students every day, according to the application.
It would also be located in the former Singer Factory on Barnum Avenue, where three other city charter schools (Bridge Academy, New Beginnings and Park City Prep) all got their start. Great Oaks would pay $10 a square foot for 6,366 square feet. It wants to open in the fall of 2015. Its management fee built into its budget would amount to $1.6 million over the five years.
One of the many letters of support for the proposal came from Meghan Lowney, executive director of the Zoom Foundation, and a behind-the-scenes player when the city school board was taken over by the state in 2011. Great Oaks’ plans, she wrote, are aligned with her efforts to rapidly improve public education opportunities for underserved children by pooling and leveraging financial, human and political capital.”
Although public hearings are required on each proposal, the decision to approve or reject a proposal rests with the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education. The charter school law severely limits the role of local boards of education.
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Bridgeport, Capital Prep Charter School, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Charter Schools, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry
According to the charter school application submitted by Steve Perry’s private charter school Management Company;
“The Capital Prep Harbor School (the “Harbor School”) is designed as a replication of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School (“Capital Prep”) in Hartford, Connecticut. The founders of Capital Prep have developed an internationally recognized model designed to prepare children from historically disadvantaged populations to compete and ‘win’ in education. Capital Prep has proven that all children when given the right conditions and environment not only succeed but excel in their academic as well as their social-emotional growth.”
As the Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education consider Steve Perry’s 600 page application to open a new charter school in Bridgeport, their first task will be to overlook the fact that Perry’s Hartford Prep Magnet School refuses to provide equal access to Latinos and other children who deal with English language barriers.
Perry’s Hartford school also fails to take its fair share of students who need special education services, and it is alleged that the special education students Capital Prep does enroll don’t get the services mandated in their Individual Education Plans (IEPs). There are widespread rumors that Capital Prep is being investigated as a result of its utter failure to meet federal and state special education laws.
The data on Capital Prep’s failure to provide equal access is stark and extremely disturbing;
||Hartford School System
||Capital Prep Magnet School
|Students not Fluent in English (ELL)
|Students who come from homes where English is not the primary language
|Special Education Students
In addition, the disciplinary tactics utilized at Capital Prep Magnet School have raised equally serious concerns. Students being forced to sit at the “Table of Shame,” students being required to stand while eating lunch, students being made to state during entire academic classes and students being made to stand facing the wall for long periods of time in administrators offices are all examples of disciplinary policies that may cross into child abuse.
Perry’s charter school application reports that he and his senior staff have been working with Bridgeport officials and community leaders for months. The application reads;
“Founding members continuously met with local officials, including Mayor Bill Finch and his Education Adviser, Joshua Thompson, as well as local community-based organizations, religious leaders and representatives from Housatonic Community College.”
So who are these Bridgeport supporters?
Listed as Governing Council Members for Perry’s new Charter School are;
Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr., Senior Pastor Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
- As directly quoted from his resume, Moales also lists himself as CEO/Founder C.R.E.A.M. Inc. and says that in that capacity he, “Earned endorsement from Mayor, local newspaper, Democratic District leaders and Democratic Clubs in Bridgeport CT for Board of Education” and “Exhibited tireless energy, positive attitude and visionary leadership” and “Revamped entire department bringing in all new Commissioner.”
- Kenneth Moales Jr. who continues to serve on the Bridgeport Board of Education is also Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.
Reverend Carl McCluster, Senior Pastor Shiloh Baptist Church, Bridgeport
- McCluster also lists himself as Founder, Managing Director, Senior Program office for F.R.E.E.D.O.M. Inc. a National Economic Development Consulting Firm
Reverend William McCullough, Senior Paster Russell Temple CME Church in Bridgeport.
- McCullough also lists himself as the Founder and CEO of U-Turn Ministries, FaithCARE and Safe Streets Kids (SSK)
Teresa Wilson, Executive Director V.I.P. College Preparatory Program, Inc., Bridgeport CT.
Wilson reports that she coordinates “college tours for areas high school students” and “collaborates(s) with various school districts and school administration in selection of students to attend tour….”
Gwendolyn Brantley, ACCESS Education Services, Bridgeport, CT.
Brantley’s adds her duties are to “Administer and manage an academic enrichment program for middle and high school students.”
Meanwhile, appended to Perry’s charter school application are a series of letters of support. They come from:
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch who writes, “As Mayor of Bridgeport, I am writing to express my full support of the proposal of by Capital Prep Harbor School to open a state charter school in fall of 2014 that will serve the children and families of Bridgeport. I am honored by the decision of the Capital Prep team to bring their outstanding academic model to Bridgeport within the context of a top-tier high school program…”
Other letters of support are from:
State Representative Charles Clemons
Teresa Wilson writing on behalf of the VIP College Prep Program. (Note that Wilson serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
Reverend Carl McCluster writing on behalf of Shiloh Baptist Church. (Note that McCluster serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
Gwendolyn Brantley writing on behalf of ACCESS Education Services. (Note that Brantley serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
And Kenneth Jackson, founder of Kenneth Jackson’s Mentoring Services
Considering that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, has consistently supported charter schools at the expense of public district schools and has ducked his obvious conflict of interest when it comes to his support for charter schools, it will be interesting to watch whether Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are successful in railroading this controversial and flawed charter school application through the State Board of Education.
Bridgeport, Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steve Mandel, Teach for America Bridgeport, Education Reform, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Meghan Lowney, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steve Mandel
Don Michak of the Journal Inquirer newspaper has a blockbuster story on the way Governor Malloy, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the corporate education reform industry have contaminated the public policy making process in Connecticut.
The JI story, entitled, Hedge fund founder buys leadership ‘pipeline’ in Malloy’s office, raises extraordinary legal and ethical issues about the possibility of illegal lobbying and ethics violations, as well as shines a light on how a billionaire Malloy donor is not only giving the Governor campaign cash but paying for Malloy staff who are in the unique position to help push the corporate education reform industry’s agenda.
Don Michak explains:,
“A hedge fund billionaire’s private foundation is paying three “fellows” to develop public policy in the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and two state departments.
The arrangement is eye-catching because the foundation is bankrolled by Stephen F. Mandel Jr., the founder of the Lone Pine Capital hedge fund in Greenwich and one of the biggest financial backers of Malloy’s Democratic Party.
But it also is extraordinary because of the controversial role Mandel’s foundation and its executive director, Meghan K. Lowney, played in Connecticut’s education policy — particularly in the state’s failed takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Asked if those developments pose conflicts or, more simply, the potential for political backlash, Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba responded that the program sponsored by Mandel’s Zoom Foundation is “a learning opportunity for aspiring leaders and public servants to get a unique view at the executive level of state government.”
“Outside of recruiting great fellows and providing outside leadership training to the fellows, Zoom has no influence on the fellows’ work with the state,” he said. “As a foundation, there is a prohibition of advocacy and lobbying for the fellows which is made abundantly clear from the start and reinforced through the yearlong fellowship.”
Doba compared the governor’s arrangement with Zoom to that of “several similar learning opportunities in other states, cities, and at the federal level like the White House Fellows Program.” He said Malloy’s office previously hosted a fellow from the Dukakis Governor’s Summer Fellows Program through the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, “which is funded privately.”
Reminded of the role played in Bridgeport by Mandel’s second “charitable trust,” the Lone Pine Foundation, Doba said the governor’s office works only with Zoom.
“The fellows do a variety of work from staffing task forces, research, grants management, project coordination, among many other assignments with a view to ‘executive experience,”’ he said. “They do not replace a job that would normally be done by a state employee, whether in our office or an agency.”
As Wait What? readers will recall, Mandel and his aide, Meghan Lowney, played the pivotal role in the creation of Excel Bridgeport, Inc. the corporate funded education reform advocacy group that supported Malloy’s education reform bill, worked to pass Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s failed charter revision proposal to do away with an elected board of education in Bridgeport and has been the biggest boosters for Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales Jr, the disgraced former chair of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Excel Bridgeport’s incorporation papers revealed that the lobby group was formed by Meghan Lowney and that its corporate address was also Lowney’s address. Since then, Nate Snow, the Director of the Connecticut Chapter of Teach for America has become Excel Bridgeport’s President, although Lowney remains on the board of directors.
Billionaire Steve Mandel is also on the Teach for America’s Board of Directors and helped finance Finch’s failed charter revision campaign.
As reported here at Wait, What? and in the Journal Inquirer, Mandel has also donated the maximum allowable amount ($10,000) to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee.
In addition, as the JI goes on to explain;
“Lowney was a key figure in the brouhaha over public schools in Bridgeport in 2011 and 2012. Basically, the city’s Board of Education, stalemated and facing an $18 million budget shortfall, voted to dissolve itself, backed by what the Wall Street Journal called “well-funded outside interests.” A state-appointed board subsequently brought in a new superintendent, but the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that the state’s takeover was illegal and ordered a special election.
Lowney, together with Nate Snow, the executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Teach for America, had founded Excel Bridgeport, a proponent of the state takeover. One of the biggest opponents of that move, retired state Superior Court Judge Carmen L. Lopez, dubbed Lowney “the conspirator in chief”’ of the “coup that led to the illegal removal of a democratically elected Board of Education by the state.”
Moreover, the Connecticut Post reported that emails showed that Lowney initially introduced herself to state education officials as an agent of the Mandels, saying they had joined with other funders to revise the city’s education charter to give control to Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, a political ally of Malloy.
Although there were numerous emails between Lowney and officials within the Malloy administration, Meghan Lowney never registered as a lobbyist nor filed the required lobbying reports.
You can read Don Michak’s story at: http://www.journalinquirer.com/page_one/hedge-fund-founder-buys-leadership-pipeline-in-malloy-s-office/article_3994ac24-8cf9-11e3-949d-001a4bcf887a.html
Check back for updates because there is MUCH MORE to this story than has been revealed so far.
Bridgeport, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas
Two weekend Wait, What? blog posts continue the task of revealing the Trail of Destruction that Paul Vallas leaves in his wake.
First up is the special education debacle. Despite repeated warnings that his “initiative” to reduce special education costs would not only violate federal and state laws but would be disastrous for Bridgeport children who need and deserve the special education services to which they are entitled, Vallas blasted his policies through. The result – a blistering report from the Connecticut Department of Education that Vallas and Bridgeport are in serious trouble for violating the rights of Bridgeport’s special education students. You can read more at: The Paul Vallas Legacy: “Bridgeport systematically violated special education laws”
Meanwhile, while Vallas continues his false claim that he “balanced” Bridgeport’s School Budget during his two year stay in Bridgeport. In fact, it took a $3.5 million loan from the State of Connecticut to get Bridgeport’s budget out of a deficit last year.
And this year, Governor Malloy and Mayor Bill Finch cut a bizarre deal that allows the City of Bridgeport off the hook for failing provide its fair share of funding for its own schools.
But the “deal” didn’t quite produce the promised results…
As reported in the Connecticut Post;
“School district still waiting for $3.3M deposit
The city’s new school board got a primer recently on the balanced, but fragile 2013-14 operating budget.
The district, the board members learned, is still waiting for the city and state to pay $3.3 million that it’s owed under the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.
Late last year, the city and state came to terms on a deal that would allow the district to contribute about $1 million less in workman’s compensation, which freed up those funds for other uses. But the state has yet to give the district the $1.2 million toward what the city owed.
Before it releases the money, the state expects the city to put in writing that in 2013-14, it will build into its allocation to the district both what it owed this year plus an additional $2 million in the 2014-15 budget.
That means next year, the city will have to contribute $60 million to its schools.
Marlene Siegel, the district’s finance director, told the board’s finance committee she expects to get the money, but she doesn’t have it now.
The district’s 2013-14 operating budget is $231.7 million, which is supposed to include a $59.2 million contribution from the city and $173.7 from the state.”
And finally, after leaving Chicago and Philadelphia’s public schools in financial ruin comes this latest news from Louisiana — Paul Vallas played pivotal role in case that could cost New Orleans and Louisiana $1.5 billion.
As Wait, What? readers know, Paul Vallas had agreed to leave his Bridgeport post next week. However, he later retracted that agreement and threatened the Bridgeport Board of Education with a lawsuit unless they paid him his full salary and benefits through March 1st. A majority on the Board fell for the ploy and Connecticut and Bridgeport taxpayers will be paying Vallas $900 a day for an extra month.
We’ll see what additional damage Vallas can do to Bridgeport’s schools before he rides off into the West.
Bridgeport, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Special Education, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Bridgeport, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Special Education, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry
Paul Vallas hasn’t even left Bridgeport…In fact; the taxpayers of Connecticut and Bridgeport are picking up his salary and benefits for another month… But his legacy is already becoming clear.
Late last week, the Connecticut State Department of Education released a report blasting the Paul Vallas’ leadership and the Bridgeport School System because, among other violations, it “systematically failed to identify a number of students determined to be eligible for special education…”
The damage done to significant number of Bridgeport’s special education students and the violation of federal and state laws that are in place to ensure special education students get the services they need and deserve, is a direct result of Paul Vallas’ policy of arrogance and deceit.
Long time Wait, What? readers may remember a series of blog posts about the outrageous and inappropriate changes that Paul Vallas, in the name of cutting costs, was making to Bridgeport’s special education program.
The posts specifically highlighted items that the State Department of Education has now deemed illegal and inappropriate.
For background read;
UPDATE: Bridgeport’s Assault on Special Education: Time for Commissioner Pryor to intervene… (August 28, 2012)
News Flash: Team Vallas Addresses Special Education Funding Issue (sort of) (August 23, 2012)
What is Paul Vallas doing to Bridgeport’s Special Education Students? (August 21, 2012)
As the Connecticut Post reported this week:
“In response to an October 2013 complaint filed by the Center for Children’s Advocacy against the district, the state conducted an investigation and determined that the district violated its obligations to students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and state law.
Most of the examples cited in the complaint were from the 2012-13 school year, when under outgoing Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas there was a concerted effort to bring down special education costs.”
The report is a chilling reminder of what happens to individual students when administrators are allowed to disregard their legal and moral duties to children.
The Connecticut Post highlighted a few examples including;
One of the students cited in the complaint had struggled academically since first grade, failed and repeated sixth grade. Because of his age was advanced to high school last year, where he failed every subject. Even so, the district never held a meeting to discuss the student’s suspected educational or emotional disabilities or potential support services that might help him academically.
Another student was placed on homebound instruction for most of the 2012-13 school year due to mental health issues, but a placement meeting was not convened until July 2013.
Students at Harding, Bassick, Marin [schools] went without receiving a Planning and Placement Team assessment as is required under a federal Child Find mandate.
Paul Vallas and the Bridgeport Schools literally put some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable students at risk… all so that he, along with the former Board of Education, Mayor Bill Finch, Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor could crow about Vallas’ miraculous ability to balance he school budget.
A copy of the State Department of Education’s finding can be read here: http://blog.ctnews.com/education/files/2014/01/State-findings.pdf
You can read the Connecticut Post story here: http://blog.ctnews.com/education/2014/01/24/bridgeport-systematically-violated-special-education-laws/
Take the time to skim the actual State Department of Education report.
The sad truth is that as terrible as these stories are, if the State Department of Education does its job and investigates Steve Perry and Capital Prep Magnet School, the results will be disturbingly similar….if not worse.
Kenneth Moales, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas Kenneth Moales Jr., Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas
Paul Vallas will be getting an extra $16,500 from Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers thanks to last night’s 5-4 vote of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
After heavy lobbying from Mayor Bill Finch and Vallas supporters, newly elected board member Democrat Dave Hennessey, who was part of the successful anti-Finch challenge slate in last September’s Democratic primary decided to vote with Mayor Bill Finch’s remaining three Democratic supporters and the one Republican board member to shift Vallas’ last day as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools from February 7, 2014 to March 1, 2014.
According to a story in the Connecticut Post, the majority claimed that move was necessary to “avoid a legal fight and keep the board from paying health insurance to Vallas beyond his departure date.”
The Connecticut Post added that “Hennessey sided with Kenneth Moales, Jacqueline Kelleher, Hernan Illingworth and Republican Joe Larcheveque to move the date.”
It is particularly ironic, if not straight out bizarre, that after winning a primary in September against the pro-Finch, pro-Vallas slate, Hennessey would now give in to Vallas’ demand for more money.
Hennessey served as a school teacher and coach in the Bridgeport public schools for 38 years before retiring and Vallas is the one who called Bridgeport’s teacher contract the worst he had ever seen despite the fact that it is a far less generous contract then those in wealthy neighboring communities.
Vallas’ biggest supporter, Finch campaign treasurer Kenneth Moales Jr,. praised Vallas at last night’s Board of Education meeting and spoke out in favor of giving Vallas the extra three weeks of pay despite the fact that Vallas had announced his intent to resign in November and December and was present, in December, when the board set his final date as February 7, 2014.
But on New Year’s Eve Paul Vallas sent a letter to the Bridgeport board of education informing them that he would not leave until March 1, 2014 and that he wanted the board to pay his health benefits through June. The total cost of Vallas’ last minute demand was over $25,000
At the meeting Vallas implied or threatened that he would sue the board if they didn’t give in and five of the nine members of the board ended up rolling over and voting to give away the scarce public funds.
Vallas is leaving Bridgeport to become Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s running mate in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Perhaps the most interesting underlying issue of all is that the Illinois Democratic nominating convention will be taking place on March 17, 2014.
With Vallas decision to stay in Bridgeport until March, Vallas will have put off campaigning for more than 16 weeks after Quinn announced that Vallas would be his running mate.
Of course… Alternatively Vallas may simply take the Connecticut taxpayer funds, call in sick or take vacation time and join Quinn on the campaign trail in Illinois.
You can read the CT Post piece here: http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Board-sets-March-1-for-Vallas-departure-5140211.php
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
Finch gives Vallas Key to City
With ousted Democratic Board of Education chairman Kenneth Moales, Jr. at his side, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch gave Paul Vallas Bridgeport’s “Key to the City” for his “service to students.”
There is still no word whether Governor Malloy or Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor stopped by last night’s “Farewell Reception” for Vallas in Bridgeport but if they did they managed to stay out of the pictures that have been posted on social media sites.
From the reception, corporate education reform industry advocacy group, Excel Bridgeport, Inc. tweeted, “So many wonderful people in the room giving Superintendent Paul Vallas a warm farewell!!”
Now that Vallas has Bridgeport’s “Key to the City” it isn’t clear whether he will drop his attempt to stick up the taxpayers of Bridgeport and Connecticut for that extra $20,000 he has been demanding or simply take the $500,000 he has already received and his “key” and head back to Illinois in early February.
If anyone out there knows whether Malloy or Pryor joined Finch at the extravaganza, don’t hesitate to inform Wait, What? readers.
Bridgeport, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
Two days after the media requests were submitted, neither Governor Malloy nor Commissioner Pryor’s communications staff have bothered to respond to the repeated question of whether either of them will be attending Paul Vallas’ “Farewell Reception” that is being hosted by Mayor Bill Finch tonight from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn.
While Connecticut State Statute Section 1-210 does allow public officials to keep certain information private, the Governor and Commissioner’s public schedule don’t normally fall under one of the eighteen specific exemptions listed in the law.
But Malloy and Pryor are apparently trying to keep their schedule secret, at least from Wait, What? readers.
However, it turns out that Governor Malloy WILL ACTUALLY BE in Bridgeport tonight to attend the Hispanic Democratic Caucus (CHDC) fundraiser which runs from 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm at Sazon Y Mambo, a restaurant located at 1691 Main Street, which is about 800 yards from the Holiday Inn where the Vallas extravaganza will be held.
Considering Paul Vallas’ record of failure over the past two years and his recent decision to stick up Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers for another $20,000 on his way out the door, it is possible that Governor Malloy will zip in and out of Bridgeport without stopping by the Vallas event.
Alternatively, Malloy is trying to ensure that teachers and taxpayers don’t know that he is attending the Vallas shindig.
Or maybe we’ll be surprised and Governor Malloy, with or without Commissioner Pryor, will be stopping to instruct Vallas to be satisfied with the $500,000 he has already taken from Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers and that Vallas would do well by simply leaving town and withdrawing his insulting demand for the additional money he doesn’t deserve.
Regardless of the Vallas issue, Malloy’s attendance at the Hispanic Democratic Caucus fundraiser has created its own news. As Wayne Jebian of the CTLatinoNews writes;
“Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s soft-pedaled re-election campaign will take a turn toward hard politicking on Friday when he visits a fund-raising reception on Main Street in Bridgeport for the Hispanic Democratic Caucus (CHDC).”
“I think the last time the governor showed up at one of the caucus events was before he was governor, when he was coming in during the primary,” said state senator Andres Ayala, Jr. (D-Bridgeport).
What some Latino leaders are looking for in return would come during the 2015 budget process, in the legislative session following the coming election. A particular line item in the state budget, Hispanic Human Development, was slated for termination in both the governor’s 2011 and 2013 budgets. This represented state funds, less than $1 Million per fiscal year, being channeled to nonprofit agencies delivering critical services to poorer residents. “These agencies are in the trenches providing critical services to the most vulnerable population,” said [CHDC chairman Joe] Rodriguez.
Werner Oyanadel, now Executive Director of the state’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, helped organize the nonprofit recipients in the battle of the 2013 cuts. According to Oyanadel, there were proposals to decrease the funding by 40% while eliminating the budgetary line item. “As a coalition, we made the point to the governor to keep the line item,” said Oyanadel, arguing that without this point of cohesion for Hispanic groups, it would be impossible to unite and fight effectively for their share in the future.
Since all that Latino voters could expect to receive in the coming election campaign would be promises for better treatment in the next budget year, how else can Latino Democrats weigh the Governor’s performance as a friend to Latinos? “We want to ensure that the administration is diverse, that Hispanics are given key appointments,” said Rodriguez. “That is very important to our community. ”
You can read the full article at: http://ctlatinonews.com/blog/2014/01/07/the-ct-latino-vote-malloy-doing-the-courting/?utm_source=CTNewsJunkie.com&utm_campaign=608bc004de-MCP546_Jan_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a493d2308d-608bc004de-92878945