This is the fourth blog I’ve devoted to charter scandals. Sadly this could become a monthly post. These stories are from November.
Milwaukee, WI – Out of 126 teachers at the Milwaukee Charter Prep (MCP) school, 22 are not currently licensed. Milwaukee Public Schools teachers are required to have a license to teach, so are MCP teachers. According to Rob Rauh, the CEO of MCP, they are “working diligently” with Teach For America and Milwaukee Public Schools to get the applications processed.
Rauh explains why there is a high number of unlicensed staff. Some teachers were recruited from another state. Others are taking part in recruitment programs like Teach For America. Others have pending applications for renewal. But one of the biggest obstacles, Rauh says, is the state’s rigorous certification exam known as the Praxis (Fox.com).
“It’s a challenging test,” Rauh said. Nghia Foster, who is the Dean of Students for Milwaukee College Prep, struggled to pass the Praxis. “A test does not justify what you can do in a classroom,” Foster said (Fox.com).
Thirty seven states require students pass Praxis to gain state licensure. Other states require a different exam, but all require a test as a criteria for licensing.
My question: How is reformers answer to failing public schools unlicensed teachers who can’t pass a basic core competency exam?
Chicago, IL – In 2005 Pamela Strain founded the Beacon Hill Preparatory Academy, a private school for underprivileged children in a south Chicago suburban neighborhood.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Strain is suspected by the FBI of using the school to steal $2.7 million in funds over a seven-year period, including money from federal school lunch subsidies and other grants designed to provide nutritious food to low-income children. “During one visit to the school’s Harvey location in 2015, a state inspector encountered offices with badly outdated equipment and records of a food program that were either missing or incomplete. The school appeared to have no dedicated food prep area, and an empty classroom where food was being stored was infested with moths Chicago Tribune .
Strain, 60, is charged with using school funding to “…pay for a lavish lifestyle, including her home and other properties, luxury cars, spas, salons and shopping sprees at stores such as Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s” Chicago Tribune.
My question: Without oversight from the state, does anyone see why so many people are misappropriating funds?
Dover, DE – Noel Rodriguez, principal of the Academy of Dover, a charter school was recently charged with embezzling $145,480 from the Academy over a a three-year-period beginning in July 2011. “Rodriguez used the embezzled money for personal expenses such as electronics, gardening and camping equipment, automobile costs, a dog house, personal travel and home improvement items” (Delaware State News).
My question: If this gentleman was under investigation from the beginning, why did it take so long to investigate?
Chicago, IL – Megan Kotarski, 28 was a teacher at the Horizon Science Academy was charged this month with having sexual contact with a 16 year old student. Kotarski is charged with a felony count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between 13 and 18 years old (Fox News).
My question: What the hell????
Tobyhanna, PA – Reverend Dennis Bloom, 62, was the former CEO of the Pocono Mountain Charter School, and pastor of the Shawnee Tabernacle Church. This month Bloom was fined $55,000 by the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission for filing deficient financial statements for four years. Additionally he was charged with ethics violations. “According to the commission, Bloom gave his wife a substantial raise and hired his children for positions in the school‘ (Pocono Record).
Bloom founded the K-12 school in 2003 and resigned as CEO of the charter school in 2010 under a cloud of controversy regarding his personal and school finances. The PA Charter Appeals Board revoked the charter’s license renewal application, because of “excessive entanglement between the school and its landlord, the Shawnee Tabernacle Church” (Pocono Record).
My question again: Without oversight from the state, does anyone see a pattern of misappropriation?
I’ve written of only a few of the multitude of stories about charter scandals. We know what happens when the fox guards the hen house, and we continue to watch it happen. Shame on us.
These are my reflections for today.
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