On April 2nd, the Delaware Public Integrity Commission wrote a letter to the Odyssey Charter School Board of Directors which showcased a plethora of financial improprieties, conflicts of interest, and co-mingled interests involving their board and the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA). The Odyssey Board of Directors has nine members, five of which belong to AHEPA. Currently, Odyssey is beginning a formal review by the Delaware Department of Education after the State Board of Education voted to place the charter school under review last week.
The letter concludes with the following:
Those members of the OCS Board that are also associated with AHEPA have violated the State Code of Conduct and OCS’s Bylaws on multiple occasions.
This allowed the appropriation of State funds that belong to OCS by those who have a fiduciary duty to protect the interests of the school. Immediate remuneration and remediation is required to correct the violations of the Code of Conduct.
The letter screams for a full investigative audit to be done but State Auditor Kathy McGuiness is refusing to do it unless the Delaware Department of Education pays for it. Sarah Mueller with Delaware Public Media released an article about the situation and McGuiness actually has the gall to blame the charter school audit bill.
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness said the circumstances for an audit doesn’t meet the criteria in the 2016 law State Rep. Kim Williams and State Sen. Dave Sokola worked to pass.
State Rep. Kim Williams vehemently disagrees with McGuiness:
But Williams said the law allows her to do an audit.
“Because evidence was brought forward showing that there are concerns, one would think that the auditor would investigate these concerns since it is taxpayer dollars,” she said.
But McGuiness’ motivation here may not be as simple as her belief that existing Delaware State code is the reason for her refusal here.
Oddly enough, roots to a huge conflict of interest on McGuiness’ end can be traced back to her run for Lieutenant Governor in 2015. A fundraiser was held by 40 members of the Delaware “Greek-American” community according to Hellenic News:
At a December 3 fundraiser hosted by members of Delaware’s Greek American Community, more than 40 Greek-Americans came out to support her effort to become the first Greek-American to hold statewide office in Delaware. McGuiness, one of four sisters in her family, shared with supporters the Greek values her late father, John Kramedas, instilled in her. “In our house, we learned the value of getting an education and hard work. When you put those two together you can create your own opportunities for success.” The fundraiser host committee members were Demitri and Georgia Halakos, Michael and Liz Vassilikos, Gus and Maria Caras, Antonios Kypreos, Ted Hantzandreou, George Hantzandreou, Dr. Dean Lomis, Dr. George Moutsatsos and Sophia Pennias.
While a fundraiser for a state office campaign is not unusual, McGuiness’ ties to some of the individuals hosting the event is enough to raise some eyebrows. Several of the attendees belong to AHEPA- Demitri and Georgia Halakos, Ted Hantzandreou, Dr. Dean Lomis, Dr. George Moutsatsos and Sophia Pennias are all members of AHEPA. But the name that sticks out like a sore thumb is George Hantzandreou. Not only is he a member of AHEPA but also sits on the Odyssey Charter School Board of Directors. This is a matter that should certainly be looked at by the Public Integrity Commission. It is one thing to have a fundraiser. These are very common in any election. But given the ties to Odyssey and AHEPA this needs to be investigated.
These aren’t the only strong ties between McGuiness and Greeks in Delaware. McGuiness appointed two individuals with VERY Greek last names to high-level positions in the Auditor of Accounts office. Her Deputy Auditor is Elizabeth Vasilikos and her Chief of Staff is Spiros Mantzavinos. Both were given an annual salary of $105,000.00. In addition, McGuiness recently rehired Andrena Burd, one of the chief figures involved in the unethical ousting of Kathleen Davies. Davies ran against McGuiness for the State Auditor position last year but lost in the Primary against her. Burd’s maiden name is Kardos.
McGuiness’ maiden name is Kramedas. The Wilmington chapter of AHEPA was created in 1926 and one of the founding members was Gregory Kramedas according to an article on WITN Channel 22 Wilmington:
American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA)
The Order of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) was founded in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1922 to fight hatred, bigotry spearheaded by the Ku Klux Klan, and discrimination, and to assist Greek immigrants into assimilating into American Society. The Wilmington, Delaware Chapter #95 was instituted on February14,1926 by newly naturalized citizens John Govatos, George Boines, James Sarros, Nicholas Govatos, James Haldas, Gregory Kramedas, and Charles Tarabicos. To learn more, visit: https://ahepa.org/
While this writer was unable to determine any exact lineage between Gregory Kramedas and Kathy Kramedas McGuiness, one does wonder. For a matter as controversial as this, involving a Delaware charter school and a Greek fraternal organization, that at the very least, has members which have contributed to McGuiness’ campaigns for Lieutenant Governor and State Auditor, a clear conflict of interest is beginning to form. McGuiness unwillingness to audit Odyssey unless the Delaware Department of Education sends the Auditor of Accounts office a blank check is a mockery of the auditor’s office. McGuiness’ vow of not having any conflicts of interest during her campaign, while hiring Greek friends and refusing to audit a Greek-themed charter school with ties to a Greek fraternal question is something the Delaware Public Integrity Commission needs to review.
Meanwhile, McGuiness is telling the media her office is receiving tons of requests for investigative audits. But none have come out from her office since she was elected. Any audits on their website were begun prior to her being sworn in. If McGuiness is going to try to charge state agencies for audits but won’t give amounts, she has effectively neutered her own office from doing what they are required to do under Delaware State Code. Will other conflicts of interest arise that could cause her to misinterpret Delaware code to protect campaign contributors and Friends of McGuiness?