Education Reform, Garth Harris, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Garth Harris, Gary Solomon, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowksi
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and one of the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s most prominent leaders, we be in federal court today – Tuesday, October 13, 2015 – to face charges criminal stemming from her indictment in a $23.5 million contract and kick-back scheme. A guilty plea is expected.
Charges were also filed against The SUPES Academy LLC and Synesi Associates LLC, as well as against the owners of those two companies, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas. According to the indictment, their role in the kick-back scheme includes charges of bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
A third company owned by the two individuals, PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm that provided New Haven with Superintendent Garth Harris and Norwalk with Superintendent Steven Adamowski has also been caught up in the FBI’s investigation into the Chicago scandal.
As the Chicago Sun Times reported last week,
“Even before she was hired to run Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett set up a scheme to get a 10 percent kickback on all the CPS contracts she could steer to a former employer, in part to set up a college fund for her twin grandsons, authorities said Thursday.
The feds found damning, detailed emails between her and her ex-boss, Gary Solomon —
“I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit :)” the feds say Byrd-Bennett wrote in one of many emails discussing the alleged kickbacks.
In a follow up story the Chicago Sun Times added,
“In another email from December 2012, Solomon assured Byrd-Bennett that trust accounts had been set up in the names of two of her young relatives, each funded with tens of thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors alleged. The cash would be hers once she stepped down from her public post and rejoined his firm.
‘It is our assumption that the distribution will serve as a signing bonus upon your return to SUPES,’ Solomon wrote, according to prosecutors. ‘If you only join for the day, you will be the highest paid person on the planet for that day.’
Prior to being hand-picked by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to run Chicago’s Public Schools, Byrd-Bennett worked as a consultant and lead teacher for The Supes Academy, worked as a consultant for Synesi Associates and was listed as a part of the management team at PROACT Search.
While many key actors in the Corporate Education Reform Industry have been involved with Gary Solomon and his companies, one of the most prominent names on Solomon’s list of close colleagues is the Great Paul Vallas, the Education Reform Guru and former CEO of the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans public school systems.
More recently, Democratic Governor and education reform disciple Dannel Malloy brought Vallas to Bridgeport, Connecticut and then twisted Connecticut law in knots so that Vallas could stay for two years until local residents had finally had enough and forced Vallas to leave the job and return to Illinois.
As for the situation in Chicago, it could certainly be said that Gary Solomon’s ability to build such a “successful” corporate education reform company is due, in no small part, to his close relationship with Paul Vallas.
Vallas not only hired Solomon and his companies when he worked in Philadelphia, but brought Solomon with him to New Orleans.
And Vallas worked to bring other business to Solomon and his companies as well.
While Vallas has publicly claimed that he has no financial interest in any of Solomon’s consulting activities, in Vallas’ Philadelphia days Solomon’s consulting company advertised that it had “the exclusive rights to Paul Vallas’ model of education reform.”
Solomon’s Synesi Associates went on to bragged on its website that it had played a leadership role in, “‘the successful implementation’ of Vallas’ plans when Vallas was heading up the Louisiana Recovery School District.”
The close relationship between Vallas and Solomon was explored in a detailed expose published on Philadelphia’s education website, The Notebook, in April 2005. In an article entitled Cashing in on ‘The Vallas model’ the Notebook laid out the story as follows;
Even with all the private company entrepreneurship revolving around Philadelphia School District initiatives lately, local observers expressed surprise at signs that District CEO Paul Vallas himself was appearing to be in on the action.
Evidence of a business initiative involving the use of Vallas’ name and reform approach recently surfaced on the websites of two related Chicago-based businesses. Information about the venture on one website was apparently pulled from the web minutes after Notebook inquiries. The other website disappeared the next day. (Images of several of the removed pages referenced in this story were saved by The Notebook, and are linked to in this story).
Solomon Consulting Services Inc. (SCS), a new for-profit enterprise that counts among its team a number of prominent administrators and leaders who’ve worked under or with Vallas, had obtained exclusive rights to “The Vallas Model,” according to the website of SCS’s partner and online marketing firm.
Vallas categorically denies any such deal. But questions linger about how a website devoted to marketing Paul Vallas’ accomplishments and approach came into being and what will become of the enterprise that created it.
Through a District spokesperson, Vallas said he has no commercial relationship with Solomon Consulting, adding that SCS had not been authorized to use his name or sell his reform model.
Spokesperson Cecelia Cummings said Vallas has acknowledged awareness of a number of his associates forming an enterprise. Cummings said the District had threatened legal action over the SCS website, which implied that the School District was a client of SCS.
SCS’s team list names Phil Hansen, a former Chicago chief accountability officer who served on Vallas’ Philadelphia transition team and who now works for Princeton Review; Cozette Buckney, Chicago’s chief education officer under Vallas and a member of Vallas’ Philadelphia transition team; Sue Gamm, chief specialized services officer in Chicago during Vallas’ tenure, who also served as a consultant to Vallas during his transition…
SolomonConsultingInc.com, disappeared from the web April 28, one day after the interview with Solomon. [Solomon had told the Notebook that a newly designed site was to be posted soon. A new SolomonConsulting Inc.com was posted Saturday, April 30, with no references to Vallas and no list of personnel].
When Solomon’s website reappeared there was also no mention that Gary Solomon had also served as assistant vice president of educational partnerships with the Princeton Review, but….
On April 20, the School Reform Commission approved a resolution for $2.6 million in categorical/grant funds for Princeton Review to provide curriculum, educational materials and professional development for the District’s summer program. Other Princeton review contracts this school year have been for $600,000 for consulting for four transitional high schools – Lamberton, Sayre, Vaux and Parkway Gamma High, and $750,000 for PSSA test prep materials, support and professional development.
During the interview, Solomon initially said he no longer worked with Princeton Review. However, in a Notebook phone call to Princeton Review’s New York office, an operator responded that the company did indeed have a listing for Gary Solomon. When the call was transferred, Solomon answered, and explained, “They’re a client of mine.”
And, has been repeatedly reported, the close bond between Vallas and Solomon was just beginning.
When Paul Vallas moved on to New Orleans to head the Louisiana Recovery School District, Solomon picked up even more lucrative contracts.
But it is a story out of Illinois that provides a true snap-shot and insider’s view into how Vallas and the Corporate Education Reform Industry works;
While Gary Solomon and his companies profited greatly via Vallas in Philadelphia and New Orleans, it is the somewhat more hidden story surrounding the Rockford School District (PSD 150) in Illinois the provides telling evidence about how Vallas and the Corporate Education Reform Industry works.
The December 13, 2007 headline in the Rockford Star newspaper proclaimed, Vallas will ‘assess and evaluate’ District 150 – for free. The story read,
School reform trailblazer Paul Vallas is willing to assess the educational program at District 150 and develop a “vision” to effectuate change, all for free.
“My role would not only be to assess and evaluate but also to lay out a comprehensive vision for the district. … Given the fact that I would do it for free, there’s certainly no loss of investment,” the New Orleans superintendent said Wednesday.
But the question remains: Will District 150 take advantage of his services or hire consultants he has recommended to assist the district in reform efforts?
Vallas met with district leaders in November, and he and consultants offered educational services to the district. The consultants are Gary Solomon and Phil Hansen, of Synesi Associates.
Vallas is willing to help for free, but the consultants have a cost. School Board President David Gorenz said Synesi has quoted the cost of its consulting services at $600,000.
Vallas, the former head of schools in Philadelphia and Chicago, emphasized Wednesday that he is not affiliated with the consultants and doesn’t benefit financially from their services. They are, however, among a group of people he recommended be part of a successful school reform process.
“Should they decide that they want my help and should they decide that they want me to recommend a full team to come in and do the job … I will be very specific in identifying the people I feel (are) some of the best people out there to come in,” Vallas said.
The superintendent of Recovery School District in New Orleans said he’s inclined to help districts when he can. Plus, he has always enjoyed Peoria, and the city is close to his permanent home — his wife still lives in Chicago.
Days later, on December 22, 2007, the paper expanded its coverage reporting Vallas will meet with Peoria District 150 officials after Christmas,
Noted education leader Paul Vallas was in town Friday talking to local business leaders about school reform, and he plans to meet with District 150 officials sometime after Christmas.
Vallas has offered to help the district reform its educational system and bring in consultants to help implement changes. He first made the offer to district officials in November, after being asked to come to town by Mayor Jim Ardis.
The superintendent of Recovery School District in New Orleans stopped by Peoria on his way home to Chicago for the holidays. He spoke at a meeting of the CEO Roundtable Friday morning and met with the Journal Star editorial board afterward.
“All I’m going to do is try to tell them what I think works and what doesn’t work and to try to provide them with some guidance. The rest is going to be up to them,” Vallas told the editorial board.
Vallas is willing to help for free, but the consultants that he would recommend would have a cost. School Board President David Gorenz has said that a consulting firm that was represented at the November meeting quoted the cost of its services at $600,000
And while Vallas said he would work for free … who were the consultants that District 150 would need to hire?
The consulting firm that is in contact with District 150 is Synesi Associates. Company officials Gary Solomon and Phil Hansen were both at the November meeting. But Vallas said there are multiple people he is willing to bring to District 150, people he referred to as “the best seasoned educators around.”
As the Chicago Scandal played out in the news this year, the Chicago Tribune reported that,
“No contract was ever signed in Peoria and Vallas disputed the assertion that he had pitched work specifically for Solomon’s firm.”
But there is often more to these types of situations then meets the eye.
Earlier this summer, Paul Vallas and his relationship to Illinois Public School District 150 surfaced yet again. The local PJ Star newspaper reported, Efforts for independent review of District 150 continue despite rejections,
PEORIA – … the current School Board already had rejected at least two attempts at outside evaluations orchestrated by Mayor Jim Ardis, with help from his recently retired education adviser Bill Collier and Peoria County Regional Superintendent of Schools Beth Derry.
The Illinois State Board of Education apparently declined to get involved in a request made by Collier, according to Freedom of Information Act requests. Derry backed off after the school district attorney questioned the legality of her office’s involvement.
But Ardis and Collier haven’t given up on getting the board to agree to an independent review. The School Board’s make-up will change Wednesday with the seating of two new members who support the idea. Either the board or Superintendent Grenita Lathan could have a change of heart, Ardis said last week.
“Support has started to build,” Collier added. “It’s really for altruistic reasons.”
Local business leaders would have donated about $60,000 for a third-party evaluation conducted by a team led by nationally-known, but controversial, education reformer Paul Vallas, who has been school superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Bridgeport, Conn.
According to Vallas, he met with Derry and the teachers’ union leadership, all of whom were supportive. Ardis and Collier presented the proposal to school officials.
Board members were wary of the motives behind what Ardis, Collier and Derry say were sincere efforts to gain an unbiased analysis of District 150’s strengths and weaknesses.
“It was presented as a fait accompli,” said District 150 Chief Legal Officer Rick Rettberg. “The consultant had already been chosen, the scope of the review had already been decided and there was no disclosure of who was paying for it.”
By April, Derry was planning to incorporate the Vallas team’s evaluation into the standard compliance review her office conducts for all Peoria County school districts every four years. That plan was dropped after Rettberg pointed out an expanded compliance review was beyond the scope of her authority.
“What you are proposing in your letter is both extraordinary and problematic,” Rettberg wrote to Derry, reminding her the ROE’s office does not have authority to conduct a quality review, much less delegate it to a private consultant.
The letters between Rettberg, Lathan and Derry were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The letters show the district filed its own FOIA request to obtain copies of a contract and correspondence between the ROE’s office and Developmental Specialists Inc., or DSI, the consulting firm Vallas recently joined.
Vallas emphasized he was providing his services for free, a favor he has done for Ardis in the past…
The $60,000 cost would go to the four-person team he assembled to conduct the review.
So while the federal government was closing in on the contract and kickback scheme involving Chicago School CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Gary Solomon this summer, Paul Vallas was a few miles up the road telling local officials in Illinois’ Public School 150 that he was willing to, once again, work for free. All local taxpayers had to do was pay a hand-picked company selected by Vallas.
But this time Vallas was instructing them that they would have to pay a company that he had publically joined about sixty days earlier.
From a press release issued by DSI Civic Financial Restructuring, LLC on April 4, 2014,
Educational Restructuring Veteran Paul Vallas Joins DSI Civic Financial Restructuring, LLC Former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools Brings 20 Years of Experience to Leading Management Consulting and Financial Advisory Services Firm
Chicago, IL – April 4, 2014 –DSI Civic Financial Restructuring, LLC (DSI Civic), which specializes in government and municipal restructuring and reorganization, today announced that Paul Vallas has joined the firm, lending his considerable government experience and expertise to the group’s national distressed governmental and municipal practice.
Mr. Vallas, the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools system, as well as school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Connecticut, brings a solid grasp of state and muncipal issues that complement the senior management team of DCI Civic, an affiliate of Development Specialists, Inc. (DSI), a worldwide consulting firm headquartered in Chicago with major offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.
“Paul brings to DSI Civic a tremendous skill set that uniquely compounds the skills and diverse background of our executives. As a member of our staff our clients will benefit from the extensive knowledge he has built over time; he is an accomplished industry veteran who can navigate successfully through the complex and complicated issues that face many distressed municipalities and school districts,” said Bill Brandt, DSI’s President and CEO.
“I’m flattered to have been asked to join DSI Civic and its stellar team of professionals,” said Mr. Vallas. “I look forward to aiding this very distinguished team as they counsel school districts, diverse units of government and municipal leaders on how to address the difficult issues that governments are dealing with in this new era of constrained budgets. The main reason I am making this move is because Bill Brandt and DSI create jobs and value. They sustain communities and bring opportunities that just weren’t there before.”
Bridgeport, Common Core, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test Bridgeport, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, SBAC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test
When the Common Core SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) test results come back later this summer, about 7 in 10 public school students will be labeled as failures.
Considering that lower standardized test scores are a result of poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs, the number of children labelled as ‘FAILURES” will be even higher in Bridgeport and Connecticut’s other poorer cities and towns.
And while the Common Core SBAC test requires students to meet the Common Cores standards, it now turns out that the new textbooks students in Bridgeport and other Connecticut communities have been given are not appropriately aligned to those Common Core standards.
In Bridgeport the problem stems from a massive contract that education reformer extraordinaire and faux Bridgeport superintendent of schools Paul Vallas rushed through without proper oversight and signed on June 12, 2012.
Vallas, the darling of both Governor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, signed a contract with the Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt publishing company that committed Bridgeport to a $10 million deal in which payments were spread out over 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The contract was for 90,000 new textbooks, instructional materials, testing software and training for teachers on how to utilize the various materials.
Although the problems with the “Textbook Deal” were evident from the beginning [See Wait, What? Post], it turns out the situation is much, much worse than initially reported.
Vallas purchased the new textbooks claiming they were needed in order to prepare Bridgeport students to meet the Common Core Standards
However it is now clear the textbooks Vallas ordered fail to meet those standards.
Edreports is a new non-profit organization that is funded – of course – by the Gates Foundation and other education reform foundations and was created to review whether the textbooks that are being used by the nation’s public school are aligned to the Common Core.
Vallas ordered Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math in Focus Program, a package that included textbooks, printed and electronic instructional content and training for teachers. The cost to Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers for the math curriculum products was well in excess of $3 million.
But as reported by Education Week, the Washington Post and other media outlets, Edreports has determined that the Math in Focus series DOES NOT MEET the Common Core standards.
After a complete review of each of the math textbooks that is part of the Math in Focus program, Edreports’ review included the following observations.
“The materials are not coherent or consistent with the standards.”
“Correct math vocabulary is not consistently used throughout the text.”
“There is not enough content for one school year.”
“Teachers using the materials would not be giving their students extensive work in grade-level problems.”
“Overall coherence and consistency of the standards is not achieved.”
“The materials do not provide a focus on the major work nor are the materials coherent.”
And the list goes on…
For details go to: http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/math-focus.html and http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/math-focus-a.html
The news is more than a bit disturbing.
While their textbooks are not aligned to the Common Core standards, students in Bridgeport (and across Connecticut) are expected to take and pass the SBAC Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test, a test that is already designed to fail up to 70 percent of all students…and that assumes that students have actually been taught the materials they are being tested on..
Incredibly, the textbooks that Paul Vallas purchased aren’t the only ones to fail the review, which means public school children across Connecticut and the nation are being taught with textbooks that don’t prepare them for the Common Core testing program.
As Education Week reported in an article entitled, “Most Math Curricula Found to Be Out of Sync With Common Core,”
The first round of a Consumer Reports-style review for instructional materials paints a dismal picture of the textbook-publishing industry’s response to new standards: Seventeen of 20 math series reviewed were judged as failing to live up to claims that they are aligned to the common core.
“In general, the results are pretty bad for all the publishers,” said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, who studies common-standards alignment but was not involved in the EdReports.org project. “I think people really will pay attention to this, and I think it will affect [curriculum] adoption processes going forward.”
In all, just one curriculum series stood out from the pack. Eureka Math, published by Great Minds, a small Washington-based nonprofit organization, was found to be aligned to the Common Core State Standards at all grade levels reviewed.
With every passing day we continue to learn that the Common Core SBAC testing scheme is nothing short of a scam with our state’s children being used as little more than “profit centers” for the corporate education reform industry.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Excel Bridgeport Inc., FaithActs for Education, Families for Excellent Schools, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Jennifer Alexander, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Public Square Partnerships, Sarah Darer Littman, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Teach for America Capital Prep Charter School, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, FaithActs for Education, Families for Excellent Schools, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Jennifer Alexander, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Sarah Darer Littman, Steve Perry, TFA, the Coalition for Every Child
Here we go again… Yet another faux education advocacy group appears unwilling or unable to follow Connecticut’s ethics laws.
The number of corporate funded education reform and charter school front groups in Connecticut is popping up faster than the buds appear during a warm spring week and these groups seem virtually incapable of adhering to Connecticut’s ethics and lobbying laws.
You may need to read this post a few times to follow the bouncing ball…
It was just a few weeks ago that CT News Junkie columnist Sarah Darer Littman wrote a scathing column on the ethics problems associated with the New York based corporate education reform industry group called Families for Excellent Schools and its subsidiary, and entity called the Coalition for Every Child.
In the piece entitled, Are Charter Advocacy Groups Skirting CT Ethics Laws?, Darer Littman laid out the facts surrounding the Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child controversy.
The well-financed charter school advocacy group is the organization that is paying for the television ads promoting Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget that makes historic cuts to public education while dramatically increasing funding for charter schools.
The group was also one of the sponsors of this week’s pro-charter school rally at the State Capitol that featured Malloy.
As the Hartford Courant reported, charter school students and parents were bused in to Hartford from as far away as Boston and New York City in an attempt to persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more money so that Steve Perry could open a charter school in Bridgeport and a Bronx charter school chain could open up a charter school in Stamford.
As Sarah Darer Littman explained, not only had Families for Excellent Schools run into ethics issues in New York, but they were failing to report activities and expenditures here in Connecticut.
Now it looks like another new charter school advocacy group called “FaithActs for Education” is failing to report its lobbying related activities as required under state law – violations that should be met with thousands of dollars in fines.
Although FaithActs for Education was rolled out on February 15, 2015 in a well-scripted press conference featuring Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and a number of Bridgeport ministers, the corporation called FaithActs for Education was actually formed in October 2014.
As the Connecticut Post reported in February, “With the public backing of Mayor Bill Finch, a faith-based education advocacy group, FaithActs for Education, conducted its first meeting on Monday declaring a dedication ‘to improving education for all children in Bridgeport, no matter what type of school they attend.’”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who participated in the event said,
“We know where we are and where we need to go. FaithActs for Education will help us to become even more of a force to be reckoned with.”
In addition to supporting Governor Malloy’s education reform agenda and Mayor Bill Finch, as he faces a difficult re-election campaign, FaithActs for Education’s immediate work has been to support Steve Perry’s plan to open a publicly funded, but privately owned and operated charter school in Bridgeport.
According to a press release issued by FaithActs for Education, the entity is led by,
- Reverend William McCullough, Pastor, Russell Temple CME Church
- Bishop John P. Diamond, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Faith,
- Reverend Janene Hawkins, Pastor, Walters Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church,
- Reverend Carl McCluster, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church,
- Reverend Cass Shaw, President & CEO, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport,
- Reverend Jeremy L. Williams, Pastor, West End Tabernacle CME Church.
- In addition, the infamous Reverend Kenneth Moales, Pastor, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is also playing a role with the group.
The organization’s chairman, Reverend McCullough, along with Reverend Moales and Reverend McCluster are all listed as original members of the Governing Council of Steve Perry’s new charter school in Bridgeport and all have been engaged in lobbying the State Board of Education and the General Assembly on Perry’s behalf.
Although we’re led to believe that FaithActs for Education is a homegrown group of religious leaders working to promote educational opportunities for all of Bridgeport’s children, the real story is very different.
According to the incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of the State, FaithActs for Education Inc. was created by Jamilah Prince-Stewart, who now serves as the entity’s Executive Director.
At the time of incorporation she served as the Director of Community Engagement for ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading charter school lobby group. In addition, FaithActs’ Director of Operations and Programs left her position as Special Projects Manager at ConnCAN to join the new advocacy group.
At the February 2015 press conference to roll out FaithActs for Education, both ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander and former ConnCAN CEO Alex Johnson were in attendance.
In addition to their lobbying work with ConnCAN, Alexander and Johnson were the individuals who formed A Better Connecticut, Inc. yet another education reform industry front group that spent more than $2 million on television ads during the year before the last gubernatorial election to “thank” Governor Malloy for his “leadership” on behalf of the corporate education reform agenda.
FaithActs’ initial press conference was orchestrated by the new group’s spokesman, Bob Bellafiore.
As public education advocate Maria Pereira noted at the time, Bellafiore is the founder of Stanhope Partners, an Albany PR firm that works for the charter school industry.
Before setting up his own company, he served as a Vice President of National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter chain that owns and operates 75 charter schools in nine states, making it the third largest for-profit charter school company in the United States.
Just last year, National Heritage Academies made national news when it was discovered that it was charging one of its’ Brooklyn charter schools $2.3 million in rent per year even though it was leasing the property for much less.
Meanwhile, back in Bridgeport, FaithActs for Education purports to be a, “grassroots organizing nonprofit based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We exist to help faith leaders and their congregations step outside their place of worship to advocate for improved educational opportunities for their own children and the children of Bridgeport.”
The organization’s rhetoric goes on to say that, “created as a 501(c)3 Foundation,” FaithActs receives funding from various foundations and individuals, although, to date, it has failed to reveal which foundations or individuals are underwriting the organization’s lobbying and advocacy activities.
FaithActs for Education also shares an address with Educators 4 Excellence, another corporate funded advocacy group that claims to speak for teachers who are opposed to tenure and other collective bargaining rights. (See Wait, What? Post Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group)
But even if all of that wasn’t indicative enough of the power and inter-relationship of the corporate education reform industry, there is more….
According to the incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of the State’s Office, FaithActs for Education’s agent of service is its Executive Director, Jamilah Prince-Stewart.
However, rather than recording the organization’s actual physical office in Bridgeport for corporate related service issues, the official corporate filing lists the following;
FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION,
C/O PUBLIC SQUARE PARTNERSHIP,
1730 COMMERCE DRIVE #706 SUITE C,
BRIDGEPORT, CT, 06605
Public Square Partnerships is a relatively new company whose agent of service is none-other-than Nate Snow, the Director of Teach for America’s Connecticut Chapter. Snow also serves as President of Excel Bridgeport Inc., another Bridgeport based charter school advocacy group that had its own run-in with the Connecticut Ethics Commission when it failed to register with the Office of State Ethics despite the fact that it was lobbying state government in favor of Governor Malloy’s illegal takeover of the Bridgeport School System.
Excel Bridgeport, Inc., along with Steve Perry supporter, Reverend Kenneth Moales, were the biggest supporters of education reform guru Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s inappropriately certified superintendent who was forced to leave after two years. Vallas being best known for “charterizing” the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans schools system before being recruited by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, to “save” Bridgeport.
Although based in Bridgeport, Public Square Partnership not only lists TFA Director Nate Snow as its agent, but they use Teach for America’s New Haven office address as their official agent of service.
According to their website, Public Square Partnerships “focuses its investments on innovative change efforts that have attained tangible results for children attending schools in high-need communities or that have the potential to do so for sustainable and scalable impact.”
The company adds, “We partner with education organizations that develop educators, schools, and engage parents and community members in creating high-quality schools.”
Public Square Partnerships further reports that in its first year of operation, the company had contracts to help five schools in Bridgeport and New Haven, three of which were public schools and two were charter schools.
Among its clients, we are told, are the new Booker T. Washington Charter School Academy in New Haven and the Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport.
While Nate Snow serves as the Agent of Service for Public Square Partnerships, the President and CEO of the company is Diane Robinson who has spent the last twenty years working for the massive KIPP Charter School chain and Teacher for America.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer most recently worked as a Deputy Chief Portfolio Officer with the New York City Department of Education and before that was with the Washington DC Public Schools system.
The company’s third employee comes to Connecticut via the large education reform industry consulting firm called Schoolworks.
While more and more of the pieces of the puzzle come into view, the one thing that is absolutely clear is that there are a whole lot of organizations, spending a whole lot of money to further Governor Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school and anti-teacher education reform agenda.
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, State Board of Education, State Budget, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Capital Prep Charter School, Charter Schools, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, State Board of Education, State Budget, Steve Perry
The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. is running for the Connecticut State Senate in a special election to be held on February 24 2015. Moales is one of three candidates seeking to fill the open seat in Bridgeport.
Not only is Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. the notorious ally of Governor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, but Moales is the leading member of the “Governing Council” of Steve Perry’s proposed Harbor Prep Capital Charter School, the charter school that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and political appointees on the State Board of Education jammed through despite the fact that there is no funding in the state budget for Perry’s growing aspirations to open a “boutique” Charter School Management Company.
Kenneth Moales Jr. was also a leading force on the illegal State Oversight Board that was appointed by the Malloy administration when the State of Connecticut illegally took over the Bridgeport School System.
Following the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision to restore the rule of law and the notion of democracy by returning Bridgeport’s Schools to an elected Board, Moales got onto the new elected Board of Education thanks to the help of Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. [Moales had served as Finch’s campaign treasurer in his run for mayor].
As a member of the elected Board, including a stint has its chairman; Moales continued to serve as Education Reform Guru Paul Vallas’ biggest cheerleader.
Moales also used his time on the Board to garner a $1 million, no-competitive bid contact, to expand his family’s state-funded daycare centers – daycare centers that rent space from the very church that Moales owns and operates.
The list of three day care centers included one – the largest – that was housed in a building that never had a certificate of occupancy or even met fire code.
The very same church that owns Moales’ house, and at last check, his Cadillac Escalade and a couple of Mercedes Benz sedans…
The very same church that has been facing foreclosure proceedings for over a year…
And now it turns out that Moales hasn’t even being paying his property taxes to the City of Bridgeport going all the way back to 2007.
The latest chapter in this charade comes via a breaking story on the “Only in Bridgeport” Blog entitled, “Moales’ Day Care Facility Owes $10,000 in Back Taxes, Joins DeJesus For Arrearage Battle,”
As the Only in Bridgeport Blog reports,
“The campaign of State Senate candidate Ken Moales says they welcome the support of political activists turned off by the $140,000 that Democratic-endorsed Richard DeJesus owes in personal property taxes on businesses, as well as his child support issues. Kingdom’s Little Ones Daycare for which Moales serves as chief executive officer owes $10,000 in personal property taxes going back to 2007, according to city tax records.
Moales, a member of the school board, has been a lightning rod in city politics in recent years, particularly when he served as head of the Board of Education. He served as Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer for Finch’s first two runs for mayor. But then tax and foreclosure issues about Moales surfaced. He no longer serves as Finch’s campaign treasurer as the mayor seeks a third four-year term this year.
City tax records show past-due personal property taxes for Kingdom’s Little Ones Daycare going back to 2007 and rising.
For more go to: http://onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/moales-day-care-facility-owes-10000-in-back-taxes-joins-dejesus-for-arrearage-battle/#more-68595
For lots, lots more on Moales and his inappropriate, often illegal antics, just search his name here on the Wait, What? Blog.
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When Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and Malloy’s political appointees to the Connecticut State Board of Education voted to hand Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School over to the FUSE/Jumoke charter school chain, the man formerly known as “Dr.” Michael Sharpe began by firing all but 4 of the school’s 19 teachers and hired Baton Rouge, Louisiana principal and “turnaround expert,” Marilyn Taylor, to serve as the principal of the Jumoke Academy at Dunbar.
Less than sixteen months later, Marilyn Taylor has now been charged with stealing more than $10,000 from Dunbar’s school’s fundraising account and spending the money gambling at casinos in Mississippi and Connecticut.
At an August 19, 2013 ceremony at the school, Bridgeport’s “superintendent” and corporate education reform industry guru Paul Vallas gushed about Jumoke and its holding company, The Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE).
Vallas, who was joined at the event by Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the assembled crowd, “The transformation will be extraordinary, because this group has done it in the past.”
According to a story in the CT Post as the time, Principal Marilyn Taylor took the microphone and using what is classic education reform rhetoric, added, “You are the parents of scholars now…Don’t let this be the only opportunity we see you.”
But while FUSE promised that their special education “model” would produce what Taylor called, “quick wins,” the results were anything but good for the school, its principal and the 15 new Jumoke at Dunbar teachers, eight of whom were Teach for America (TFA) recruits.
Earlier this year, before the Jumoke/FUSE organization collapsed in disgrace and its records were seized by the FBI, a Jumoke Academy at Dunbar official was quoted in another CT Post story telling that Bridgeport Board of Education that, “the management group they brought in to run the school this year — when Dunbar joined the Commissioner’s Network — are people who truly care about the students.”
The CT Post story explained that, “Being part of the state network means extra funding and state support in exchange for implementing changes meant to bring about a quick turnaround in school culture and test scores.”
At the time the Malloy administration and the Bridgeport Board of Education decided to hand the school over to Jumoke/FUSE, Bridgeport Board of Education member Maria Pereira, “cast the lone dissenting vote, saying she wondered what the district could accomplish on its own with the money.”
Then, only a few months later, the Hartford Courant broke that story that “Dr.” Michael Sharpe never received a doctorate and that, in fact, he had served a lengthy prison sentence for embezzling funds from a public agency in California.
Now Sharpe’s hand-picked principal, Marilyn Taylor, is out on bail after posting a $20,000 bond and Interim Superintendent of Schools Fran Rabinowitz has told the CT Post that, “Marilyn Taylor will not be returning to work as a principal in Bridgeport. I don’t want to say more at this point.”
Interestingly, Taylor has been out on paid administrative leave for the past six weeks and, according to the CT Post, “The alleged theft from a student activity account occurred in November 2013 and involved thousands of dollars generated from student fundraising, according to sources…at the time, Dunbar was being run by Family Schools for Urban Excellence.”
The news coverage of Taylor’s arrest fails to identify whether Taylor played any role in helping Jumoke/FUSE “win” an extremely lucrative contract to run up to three public schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. However, the contract with FUSE was later canceled by the Louisiana state authority that had originally signed the contract when Jumoke/FUSE collapsed.
Those issues are apparently among those that remain under investigation by the FBI.
And as for Stefan Pryor, the out-going Commissioner of Education, is concerned…a spokesperson for the Commissioner told the CT Post that the decision to remove Marilyn Taylor was “’a local decision’” and said she had no knowledge of whether it was related to the state’s probe into FUSE…”
Check back for updates on this breaking story.
Charter Schools, Jumoke Academy, Michael Sharpe, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Terrence Carter Capital Prep Charter School, Charter Schools, Fuse, Jumoke Academy, Michael Sharpe, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Terrence Carter
This truth about the charter school industry grows every day. Today’s contribution can be found in an investigative story in the New York Times entitled, A Star-Powered School Sputters. The article explores those associated with the charter school created by Dion Sanders, the pro-football, pro-baseball player turned charter school owner.
Here in Connecticut, we’ve become used to daily coverage of the failures associated with the Jumoke/FUSE charter school company and the exploits of charter school champions such as “Dr.” Michael Sharpe, “Dr.” Terrence Carter, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Steven Pryor, Capital Prep principal Steve Perry, corporate education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas and the others who are pushing the charter school gravy train.
In today’s Guest Post, public school advocate and Hearst Media Group columnist Wendy Lecker responds to a recent pro-charter school commentary piece that appeared in the Connecticut Post.
Wendy Lecker writes,
In an oped in the Connecticut Post on August 7, a board member of the Side by Side charter school in Norwalk, Anne Magee Dichele, complained that in the wake of the Jumoke scandal, and the revelations that state authorities exert little oversight over Connecticut charter schools, Connecticut charter schools are now forced to defend themselves to the public. She pleaded that the public not judge all charters by the actions of those who break the law.
As a public school parent in an urban district, I see my district and districts like mine unfairly maligned on a regular basis, by state and national officials, by the media and, of course by the charter school industry. Public education has become everyone’s favorite punching bag and the excuse to do nothing about the glaring inequality in American society. So I feel little sympathy for a charter school operator who must defend her school.
However, I will give some unsolicited advice to this board member. If you do not want to be treated like other charter schools, do not engage in the same semantic sleights of hand your fellow charter operators love to use.
In her oped, Ms. Dichele proudly proclaims that her school uses an “open lottery” so all children “have an equal chance at coming to” her school. Clearly, she is trying to create the impression that her school satisfied its duty to integrate. Perhaps Ms. Dichele is unfamiliar with the history of school segregation in our country and with the decades of evidence since the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. So I will spell it out for her. Open lotteries result in segregation. Pure and simple. In fact, open choice was used as a way of keeping southern schools segregated in the wake of the Brown decision. And over fifty years of evidence since then proves that unfettered choice segregates schools. The only way to achieve diversity in a choice system is to carefully design a controlled choice policy that consciously seeks diversity. In my district, Stamford, we abandoned an open lottery for our magnet schools years ago, as we found it that it increased segregation. Stamford has a mandatory integration policy. When our schools fall out of balance, we redistrict. Enrollment in our magnet schools is done through a lottery that consciously controls for demographics. Our schools are integrated because we make the conscious effort to integrate, rather than blindly declaring that “all can attend.”
Ms. Dichele’s Side by Side charter school is a perfect example of how an open lottery works against diversity. When you compare the demographics of Side by Side charter school to its host district, Norwalk, Side by Side has ten percent less poverty, half the percentage of English Language Learners and half the percentage of students with disabilities that Norwalk’s schools have. Moreover, while state data show that Side by Side has zero percent teachers of color, Norwalk’s school district has 15.9%.
Side by Side charter has significantly fewer needy children than its host district—which brings me to Ms. Dichele’s other claim: that her school spends less than public schools. Charter schools do not have to pay for transportation or special education services. Public school districts have to pay for those services provided to the charter schools. So, Norwalk is paying for the few special education students served at Side by Side, as well as their transportation- and Norwalk reports this payment as expenditure, even though Norwalk cannot count those children as Norwalk district students. Under state law, if a charter school has fewer than 20 students who are English Language Learners, it does not need to provide ELL services for its students. According to state data, Side by Side has 13 ELL students. If Side by Side spends less, one would have to say- of course. It is not required to provide the same services as its host district.
Moreover, the facts show that in Connecticut, charters routinely outspend or at least spend the same as their host districts. Bridgeport charters outspend Bridgeport public schools, and in New Haven and Hartford, they spend comparable amounts.
The hard numbers also show that the public schools districts in which these charters exist have been shortchanged by the state year after year. Norwalk, for example is owed at least $21.34 million annually– that’s almost $2,000 per pupil annually- by the state. And this conservative amount does not factor in any of the unfunded and underfunded mandates imposed on districts, like the Common Core and teacher evaluations. By contrast, the legislature forks over massive yearly increases to charters, no questions asked. For the past few years, Connecticut’s ten neediest districts received increases of less than $300 per pupil per year on average, with strict strings attached mandating that they spend that money only the way Commissioner Pryor wanted it spent. By contrast, in Governor Malloy’s 2012 legislation, every single charter school in Connecticut received a three-year across-the-board increase of $2600 per child. Connecticut charters serve one 1% of the state’s public school children. And ninety percent of Connecticut charters serve a less needy, and therefore, less costly, population than their host districts.
According to state data, Side by Side also performs well below the state average. Side by Side may very well be a nice school whose students and parents are happy. However, that is not the metric by which our public schools are judged, sadly. If Side by Side and all the other “misunderstood” charters just want to be treated like the rest of us, serve the same children we do, and abide by the same rules.
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Michael Sharpe, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Fuse, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Michael Sharpe, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
As more and more facts come out about Michael Sharpe, the CEO of the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School Management company, parents, public school advocates and the taxpayers of Bridgeport and Connecticut are turning their attention to the decision by Paul Vallas and former Bridgeport Board of Education, Chairman Kenneth Moales, Jr. to hand over Bridgeport’s Dunbar School, its students, staff, parents and millions of dollars in public funds to the disgraced charter school fraud.
In the fall of 2012, thanks to the intervention of the Malloy administration, Michael Sharpe and the Jumoke/FUSE company won a no-bid contract to run the Milner School in Hartford. The following year, Jumoke/FUSE won a no-bid contract to run the Dunbar School in Bridgeport and this year, Sharpe and his company received permission to open a new charter school in New Haven.
Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, his Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education are all claiming that they didn’t know that Dr. Michael Sharpe wasn’t a “Dr.” or that he served approximately five years in prison for embezzlement and tax fraud when he lived in California.
In Bridgeport, the Dunbar School was handed over to Sharpe through a backroom deal that included education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas and Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr., the Malloy and Finch ally who was then serving as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education when the lucrative contract was given to Sharpe.
Just last week the Hartford Board of Education announced they were severing their relationship with Sharpe and Jumoke/Fuse due to fact that Jumoke/FUSE was failing to properly educate the children of the Milner School as required under their Memorandum of Understanding.
Then, thanks to the outstanding investigative reporting of the Hartford Courant, we’ve learned that Sharpe is a fraud having faked his resume and served a lengthy prison sentence for embezzlement and tax evasion.
With the Bridgeport Board of Education meeting tonight, the eyes of the state are turning to Bridgeport to see whether they will stick with the backroom political deal or do what is right for the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Bridgeport and Connecticut.
Although the details remain murky, one thing is clear – the Dunbar School Deal would not have taken place without the assistance of Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales, Jr.
As readers know, Kenneth Moales is already an extremely controversial figure. The man who served as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer has also been one of the most pivotal supporters of Governor Malloy in Bridgeport, the city that “gave” Malloy the margin he needed to beat Tom Foley by 6,200 votes in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Unable or unwilling to follow the law, Moales and his family have been running three daycare centers that illegally overcharged taxpayers and continue to put children in classrooms that do not meet the most basic requirements when it comes to having a permanent certificate of occupancy.
Wait, What? readers will recall that Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. received a temporary certificate of occupancy on July 23, 2013, shortly after the CT Post reported his church, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, had been operating illegally as early as 2011.
On July 23, 2013, the Chief Building Official emailed Andrew Nunn, Mayor Finch’s Chief Administrative Officer, stating “All outstanding items have been resolved and the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy has been issued effective today.” Andrew Nunn responded by writing “Thank you. Please work on outstanding issues and a timetable for a full CO and report back to me.” Those cc’d on the email include Mayor Finch’s Chief of Staff, Deputy Administrative Officer, Director of Economic Development, City Attorney, Fire Chief, Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications Director and the Chief Fire Marshall.
But a year later, Moales still hasn’t resolved “those outstanding issues” and doesn’t have a permanent certificate of occupancy, although he continues to collect on what is nearly a $1 million-a- year daycare grant from the Malloy administration.
Although Moales’ isn’t meeting his legal requirements, neither the Malloy administration nor the City of Bridgeport have stepped in to close down Moales’ daycare operation….even though it is inconceivable that any other daycare provider in the state would be allowed to stay open without a permanent certificate of occupancy.
What makes the Moales situation particularly relevant is that despite being Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Moales never briefed his fellow board members on the controversy engulfing his daycare operation – an operation that is almost exclusively paid for with state funds that go through the Bridgeport Board of Education.
And while Moales was able to fly under the State Department of Education’s rules on daycare programs, he was helping Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Pryor’s friend, Paul Vallas, give a multi-million dollar contract to Jumoke/FUSE’s CEO, Michael Sharpe, to run the Dunbar School. Sharpe got the contract despite the fact that he and his company had no experience running a school outside of Hartford and was already running into problems with the Milner School in Hartford.
The action the Bridgeport Board of Education takes tonight will speak volumes about just how much power the Malloy administration has to divert scarce public resources to favored private companies or whether those days are coming to an end.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
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One of the newer Wait, What? readers raised a question in the comment section of the blog this week. They took offense when one of the blog’s longest standing, and most respected readers, realsaramerica pointed out that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and the State Democrats diverted resources away from beating Republicans and, instead, used the money to try to defeat a slate of pro-public education Democrats… Democrats who had the support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Connecticut Working Families Party.
The new reader, derpdominguez, wrote:
So the great revelation of this campaign is that local Bridgeport politics is backwards and corrupt? Have you been living in this state for the past 40 years? Does it really have anything to do with the state party?
For those who don’t know about last year’s Democratic Primary in Bridgeport for the Board of Education, you can read the earlier Wait, What? posts or here is the abbreviated version;
As many readers know, it seems that every day thousands of Connecticut activists receive emails from top Democratic elected officials and the leadership of the Democratic State Central Committee asking for donations to help bolster the Democrat’s campaign fund.
Most of these emails ask existing or potential donors to “chip” in another $3 or $5.
The emails also inform recipients that ALL OF THE MONEY RAISED will go toward beating Republicans. In fact, one recent email pledged that the funds raised will, “help us beat the Tea Party Republicans and their multimillion-dollar super PACs.”
However, despite repeated requests for an explanation, neither the Democratic State Central Committee nor Governor Malloy’s political operatives will come clean about their inappropriate involvement in last fall’s Bridgeport Democratic Primary for seats on the Bridgeport Board of Education.
On one side was the pro-charter school, pro-corporate education reform slate that was selected and endorsed by Mayor Bill Finch and his allies on the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee. The endorsed slate was committed to keeping Paul Vallas, the internationally renowned public school privatization czar, on as the head of Bridgeport’s Schools.
On the other side was a slate of pro-education Democrats who were committed to pushing back the corporate education reform industry, dumping Vallas and re-focusing public investments in Bridgeport’s Public Schools.
The challenge slate also had the strong support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Working Families Party.
Although the Democratic Party has consistently claimed that all the money it raises is used to beat Republicans, in an unethical, inappropriate and underhanded move, the Chair of the Democratic State Central Committee, along with the help of Malloy’s campaign operatives, used more than $50,000 in Democratic State Central funds to directly bank-roll the anti-public education slate in Bridgeport against the pro-public education Democratic challenge slate.
The move by the Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee to use its funds to beat Democrats in a Democratic primary was unprecedented.
The day before the Bridgeport Democratic Primary, the Democratic State Central Committee transferred $20,000 to the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to pay for their get-out-the-vote effort and cover the costs incurred by Mayor Finch’s anti-public education slate. One of those expenses was a payment of $3,048.15 to a Portland, Maine direct mail company that produced and sent out a brochure for the anti-public education slate.
Meanwhile, in addition to transferring $20,000 in funds that were supposed to be used for beating Republicans, the Democratic State Central Committee sent its own check to that Portland, Maine company to cover additional direct mail brochures for the anti-public education slate. Those checks were for 9,471.44 (8/26/13), $3,911.21 (8/29/13) and $4,735.72 (9/10/13).
During the same period, the Democratic State Central also paid Malloy’s political consultants, Global Strategies Group, consulting fees of $7,500 and $5,000.
As an aside, Global Strategies Group was already being paid by “A Better Connecticut PAC” to support the anti-public education slate in the Bridgeport primary. “A Better Connecticut PAC,” which was set up by ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group that helped fund the record-breaking lobbying campaign behind Malloy’s education reform legislation. To date, Malloy’s political consultants have collected well in excess of $2.5 million from A Better Connecticut and other corporate education reform advocacy groups.
The real problem is that the Democratic State Central Committee has never come clean about why it spent in excess of $50,000 to beat Bridgeport’s pro-public education Democratic slate, nor have they explained how they managed to circumvent the party rules to use money raised to beat Republicans in a campaign to beat Democrats.
Thankfully, the Bridgeport anti-public education slate lost, Paul Vallas was forced to ride off into the west, and the candidates endorsed and supported by the Working Families Party and the Connecticut Education Association took control of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
So, in short… to the person who wrote, does my potential candidacy have anything to do with Bridgeport, Malloy, the corporate education reform industry and the Democratic state party?
The answer is a resounding …. Yes.
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
Late last week, two new articles about Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr, were posted here on Wait, What?
Moales is the controversial Bridgeport political figure who serves as Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s cheerleader and was the titular head of the Paul Vallas “fan club.” Moales was appointed by the Malloy administration to the state oversight board that illegally took over the Bridgeport school system and he was later elected, under the Finch banner, to the re-installed and democratically elected Bridgeport Board of Education. For a particularly critical period, Moales also served as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education, but lost that post when the pro-public education, anti-Finch, forces took control of the Board last November.
Kenneth Moales Jr. is the also the head of PRAYER TABERNACLE CHURCH OF LOVE, INC.
The company that provided Moales and his church with an $8 million loan has been working to foreclose on the church and about a dozen related properties since last summer. The foreclosure proceedings seek to take possession of The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit – Home of the War Cry, The Love Christian Academy, The Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, Kingdom’s Little Ones Academy and the Bishop Moales Fine Arts Center, the Kingdom’s Little Ones Christian Daycare, The House of Virtue, and a church owned residence where Moales resides.
During this same time period, a second major controversy has been enveloping Kenneth Moales Jr. and his financial affairs.
As noted previously, Moales rents space to his mother and sister who run state-funded daycare centers under the name of Kingdom’s Little Ones in Christ, Inc.
From 2008-2012, this daycare company collected more than $2.3 million in taxpayer to pay for the services it provides to Bridgeport’s children.
In the fall of 2012, Kingdom’s Little Ones in Christ, Inc. “won” a lucrative contract for 60 of the 72 new early childcare slots that Bridgeport received under Governor Malloy’s early childhood initiative.
Although the new contract required that providers have the new day care slots available by November 2012, official state documents show that Moales’ family operation has never been able to fill its initial allocation and that they weren’t even licensed for new slots until August 2013 —- ten months after the required date.
Even more stunning was the news that the daycare centers run by the Moales family were inappropriately billing the state and that an audit conducted by the State Department of Education determined that the Moales company needed to return more than $75,000 in state funds.
You can read the articles about this developing story here: State agency determines Malloy ally Rev. Kenneth Moales overcharged state by at least $75,000 for day care slots and here: And the scandal surrounding Moales, Finch, Vallas, Pryor and Malloy grows.
While the recent focus on financial irregularities associated with Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr., his family, and kingdom Little Ones in Christ Inc. are related to reimbursement rates for the day care centers run by Moales’ mother and sister, it now appears that the Connecticut Department of Social Services also provided Kingdom Little Ones in Christ Inc. with some grant funds in January 2012 and that the Department of Education gave Kingdom Little Ones in Christ Inc. grant funds in March 2012.
Freedom of Information requests are being delivered to determine what these other contracts were for.
In addition, requests have been submitted to determine whether the Malloy administration has given Moales, his family or their companies any other state funds since Malloy took office in January 2011.
You can also read about this issue on the Bridgeport Blog, “Only in Bridgeport.” The blog can be reached here: http://onlyinbridgeport.com/
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
After reviewing the facts, it is clearly time for a truly independent investigation into the Moales daycare center operation…
Here are the facts;
We know that Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. is Governor Malloy’s loudest supporter in Bridgeport.
We know that Reverent Kenneth Moales Jr. is Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.
We know that Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. played a pivotal role in the illegal state takeover of the Bridgeport School System.
We know that as a member of both the illegal and democratically elected Bridgeport Board of Education, Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. was one of Paul Vallas’ most influential backers and a leading advocate for the expansion of charter schools in Bridgeport.
And we know that Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. was instrumental in working with Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, and Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry to orchestrate the State Board of Education’s inappropriate approval for a new charter school in Bridgeport that will be owned by Steve Perry’s private company. According to Perry’s charter school proposal, Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. will sit on the Board of Directors for the new charter school.
But after those key facts, things get very murky.
Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. is facing an extremely serious foreclosure suit that seeks to take his church and all the church’s property including Moales’ house, cars and belongs.
Moales’ church also rents space to a series of daycare centers that, according to the Internal Revenue Service, is called Kingdom’s Little Ones in Christ, Inc.
From 2008-2012, the company collected over $2.3 million in taxpayer funds and that was before the company received an influx of cash from the Malloy administration’s expanded early childhood program and before the company was caught over billing by at least $75,000.
According to the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s records, Kingdom’s Little Ones in Christ, Inc. is actually registered as PRAYER TABERNACLE KINGDOM’S LITTLE ONES IN CHRIST, INC.
The records recorded with the Secretary of the State indicate the company is owed by Bishop Kenneth Moales Sr. (now deceased) and Peggy Moales (his wife). The company was created in 1999, but has not filed any of its annual reports since 2004.
On the other hand, the Connecticut’s Department of Public Health has given daycare center licenses to Kingdom’s Little Ones (1243 Stratford Avenue, Bridgeport) and Kingdom’s Little One Academy (1277 Stratford Avenue, Bridgeport). Both properties are owned by Kenneth Moales’ church.
One of the centers is run by Kenneth Moales Jr’s mother, Peggy Moales while the other is run by his sister, Kenya-Moales-Byrd.
As part of Governor Malloy’s early childhood initiative, the Moales family “won” a contract to provide 60 of the 72 new early childhood slots in Bridgeport. The contract appears to have gone to the Kingdom’s Little One Academy but the problem is the daycare centers were not licensed to handle the influx of children.
Although the contract provided that centers must be up and running by November 2012, the Moales family did not get a license for a daycare center to serve those slots until August 15, 2013 – at least ten months after the required date.
The New License, which carries the number 70117, was issued on 8/15/2013. However, the building, located at 729 Union Avenue in Bridgeport (another property owned by Moales’ church) may still not have a permanent certificate of occupancy, a criteria that must be met before a provider can open a daycare center.
According to emails and memos acquired from a variety of state entities, professional staff at the Connecticut State Department of education were well aware of the problems associated with the Moales’ daycare centers and were diligently trying to get the unused slots moved to a daycare enter that could provide Bridgeport’s children and parents with the daycare services they were entitled to.
Following information provided by the professional staff at the State Department of Education, the Bridgeport School Readiness Council voted on February 19, 2013 to move unused spaces from the Moales daycare center to a center called Cheyenne’s Daycare.
On February 26, the state determined that the Moales’ center could keep 42 slots and 18 others would go to Cheyenne’s Daycare.
But by summertime it became increasingly clear that something was seriously wrong with the Moales daycare operation and that they had never acquired the license needed to utilize those additional 42 slots.
An email to Kenneth Moales’ sister on August 1, 2013 from the State Department of Education reads,
“There are 42 children that were to attend Union St [the new Moales center] but the site did not open and I have no confirmed indication of a date when it will open. These spots were claimed on Peggy” [Moales] site but we know there not served at that site. [Peggy’s license only allowed 15 total students]. So, again, since Peggy is claiming 57 students on her monthly report, I assume you are serving them at your site. But, you only have 19 approved School Readiness spaces at your site.
….Each month you are being paid for 76 spaces but at this poi t you are only approved for 15 at Petty’s site and 19 at your site.
By September 2013, the State Department of Education’s office of Internal Audit issued the following finding,
“We reviewed documentation supplied by the Office of Early childhood’s Program Manager in connection with school readiness funded programs at Kingdom’s Little Ones Daycare facilities located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We believe that the program was overpaid by approximately $75,114 (27 children x 4 months x $695). We recommend that the Office of Early childhood work with SDE’s Bureau of Fiscal Services to pursue a refund from Bridgeport.
The State Department of Education then issued a refund request writing that said,
The refund request should go to the Bridgeport Public Schools and indicate that it is applicable to Kingdom’s Little Ones. The Bridgeport Schools will do two things; 1) refund the funds to SDE and 2) work out the details with the Program(s) to recover their funds – likely some kind of monthly recovery, spreading the pain.
But then, in a surprising and suspicious twist, on October 1, 2013, Paul Vallas stepped in to try and stop the state from recouping the money it was owed by filing an appeal.
The appeal was eventually rejected and the state is now working to collect the taxpayer funds it is owed.
When the story is laid out, perhaps the most telling point of all is that Kenneth Moales Jr. was the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education at the time these events unfolded and the Board of Education was apparently never informed that their Chairman’s company had overbilled the City and state by $75,000. Furthermore, the Board of Education was never told that Vallas, on behalf of the Board of Education, was attempting to stop the state from collecting the misspent funds.
Paul Vallas is now long gone, but the rest of the players are still very much on the scene.
The interrelationships between Moales, Finch, Pryor and Malloy run so deep and the allegations are so serious that a truly independent investigation is needed.
In the meantime, as noted above, Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. should relinquish his seat on the Bridgeport Board of Education.