In the wake of the IEP scandal at Glasgow High School, ALL of Christina School District is at the mercy of the Delaware Department of Education when it comes to special education. Following the events concerning fake IEP meetings at Glasgow High School that I published in October, the Delaware Department of Education was forced to act. But questions linger about how and why the Delaware DOE was unable to find out before they did. Continue reading
22 months after serious allegations arose regarding theft of school funds, justice finally caught up with Sean Moore. The former Family Foundations Academy co-director faced a federal judge today and said he was guilty. When any public schools gets federal funds and some of those federal funds are stolen, the feds get first dibs on prosecution. But Moore made it easy for them by pleading guilty today. He faces sentencing on March 2nd, 2017.
The Family Foundations Academy was probably my first really big investigative piece. It began during their charter renewal process in December of 2014 and stretched out the next few months. I don’t know how much my initial reporting on Moore and fellow co-director Tennell Brewington’s activities led to what happened today. The feds rolled these charges down a couple of months ago. So why did it take so long for Moore to enter a plea? From what I’m hearing, they had to find him first. That took some doing.
Moore’s fellow co-director, Tennell Brewington, is gainfully employed in Delaware. She was terminated from Family Foundations Academy when Moore took over the school during his brief coup-detat but she too was found to have stolen money from the school. Initial reports indicated she did not take as much money as Moore, but if she used any federal funds she too would face a federal judge. If not, I’m still waiting on Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn to do something. And what about Noel Rodriguez from Academy of Dover? I guess these things take time.
From the United States Department of Justice:
WILMINGTON, Del. – Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Sean Moore, age 43, of New Castle, Del., pleaded guilty to three counts of federal program theft before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews. Moore is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2017.
According to court records and statements made in open court, between July 1, 2011 and January 31, 2015, while serving as the Director of Finance and Operations for the Family Foundations Academy, a charter school in New Castle, Del., Moore embezzled $161,871 from the school.
Moore accomplished this embezzlement in a number of ways. First, Moore charged personal expenses to an unauthorized credit card he opened in the name of the school. Moore also abused the State of Delaware’s voucher program, by which charter schools are permitted to submit qualified expenses for reimbursement, and the State of Delaware’s procurement card system, by which the State of Delaware issues credit cards to charter school administrators to purchase necessary school supplies. In addition, Moore stole money from the school’s fundraising account, which consisted of money collected from parents of school students, local sponsors, and an after-school program. Moore also took money from the school’s construction loan account.
Moore used the embezzled money for personal expenses such as retail purchases, home improvement purchases, electronics, auto loan payments, auto services and accessories, federal tax payments, groceries, entertainment, food, gas, travel, gifts and collectibles, shoes, hotels, jewelry, train tickets, and video games.
During this time, the Family Foundations Academy received significant federal funding, which provides the basis for the federal program theft charges. The maximum penalty for each count is ten years in prison followed by a three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Education – Office of the Inspector General, and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth L. Van Pelt is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
I would like to know how Moore could settle with the Board of Directors at FFA over stolen funds. If he stole $161k in funds and settled with them for $67k, as per WDEL, that is $94,000 in lost education funding for Delaware kids. That is some serious coin. And Moore only paid back $13k of that settlement amount. But he will face jail time. That is all but a guarantee.
Manuel Alfaro, the former College Board employee, contacted several state departments of education to inform them of potential fraud coming from the College Board with the restructured SAT. Yesterday, Alfaro’s home was raided by the FBI due to the College Board claiming Alfaro published confidential information according to an article from Breitbart.
In May, Alfaro wrote to Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, along with six other state Secretaries. When he didn’t hear back from any of them, he posted an open letter on his LinkedIn account on Sunday. He wrote:
Residents of CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH, the heads of the Department of Education of your states have failed to protect the best interests of your students and your families, opting instead to protect their own interests and the interests of the College Board.
But it gets worse…
On May 7, 2016, I wrote a letter to the heads of the Department of Education in CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH to let them know that the College Board has committed global fraud against their states and the federal government. In that letter, I offered to meet with their legal teams to expose the fraud. Instead of meeting with me (or asking me for additional information), they approached the College Board about my statements and allegations.
The Delaware Department of Education announced in May 2015 that the SAT was going to become realigned for the Common Core. As juniors in the state opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment that Spring, Secretary Godowsky and Governor Markell replaced the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the new SAT for the 2015-2016 school year. Students in Delaware already had the test paid for them by the state, but this made the SAT the official state assessment for high school juniors. Markell and Godowsky acted unilaterally on this with no legislation or executive order backing this up. Many legislators changed their mind on the veto override because of this announcement on 12/31/15.
Alfaro appears to be under a lot of pressure from his former employer. It remains to be seen if he will be granted whistle-blower protection or if the College Board will prosecute him in this matter. In the same article linked above, it mentions a Reuters article from Friday which talks about the different states response to Alfaro’s allegations. Delaware was not one of them.
A New Hampshire official said the state had no immediate comment. Officials in Delaware, Illinois and Maine didn’t respond to requests for comment.
But the matter has caught the attention of one member of Congress according to the Reuters article.
A member of Congress, meanwhile, has asked federal regulators to look into Alfaro’s allegations. U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, has “been in touch with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” according to a July 28 letter she wrote to Alfaro.
I alleged back in January this was done to prevent high school juniors from opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. At one school in the Red Clay Consolidated school district, 60% of students were opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment by their parents. Including Delaware State Representative Kim Williams’ son which she announced on social media. It appeared to be a very rushed decision by Godowsky and Markell. In early November last year, the U.S. Department of Education issued warning letters to states with high opt out numbers. In January, the Delaware House of Representatives failed to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, an opt out law that passed the House and Senate with a massive majority earlier in 2015.
I find it interesting this matter was not brought up by Secretary Godowsky or the State Board of Education last month when they discussed the SAT results and the scoring method for the test. In my opinion, the College Board is trying to protect themselves in a massive cover-up and will prosecute Alfaro to prevent this matter from moving forward. I believe Alfaro should be granted whistle-blower protection and an investigation needs to take place immediately. As well, all the states involved with their SAT decisions need to come clean if they knew anything about this potential fraud.
Why does Delaware always come up in these kind of matters? As I wrote last week, Delaware is the capital of corporate education reform. Governor Markell has been the biggest proponent of every single bad education idea that has come out since he took office in January, 2009. This decision with the SAT saved many “high-performing” high schools in Delaware from devastating participation rate numbers, including Newark Charter School, Charter School of Wilmington, Conrad, and Cab Calloway, and the vocational school districts in Delaware which only have high schools. Markell has been pumping them up with his incessant Pathways To Prosperity declarations for all high schools. With the highly controversial charter school payments story still unfolding, it is more than obvious there are levels of corruption and deceit at extremely high levels at the Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, and Governor Markell’s office.
On July 15th, several Republican members of Congress wrote a letter to the Directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service about questions of potential fraud with the Clinton Foundation. Last night, Hillary Clinton accepted the Democrat nomination for President of the United States. She gave a stirring speech with more about slamming Donald Trump than what she would actually do as President. But underneath the surface of that speech lies unanswered questions about the Clinton Foundation and their illegal use of funding based on IRS regulations.
As Americans on the left and right continue to poke and jab at the opposite sides, it is more than obvious that neither candidate is worthy of becoming President. Both candidates have been subject to numerous investigations that never seem to hold either of them accountable for their actions. This is, by far, the worst selection of candidates the two major political parties in our country have ever picked. This is a choice no American should have to face. I am loathe to pick either of them in November. The pressure both sides are putting on the other parties hasn’t even reached a fever pitch. I think both candidate will not help public education. One is more blatant and arrogant with their public persona while the other smiles but her actions behind the scenes speak in volumes about her pompous boasting. I fear for the future of America with these two very greedy people at the helm. They both claim they want to help the average American as they sit in the upper echelon of the 1%. I cannot, and will not, support either Clinton or Trump. I am ashamed to be an American facing these two choices. I will not vote for either of them. Their actions regarding persons with disabilities, through downright vocal discrimination or behind the scenes corporate actions in regards to the privatization of public education show they are not fit to lead our country’s future. As I have been telling people, if you can’t do the right thing for children, how can you be expected to lead a country. Children are the foundation and future of this country.
You can deal me out of voting for either candidate. I pray America will come to its senses and do the right thing for our country. No matter who wins, the controversy surrounding both of them will overshadow anything they do. Both parties will become a lynch mob towards the other from 2017 to 2020. This is not America. This is not the country that Hillary Clinton talked about in her speech last night. It is a very ugly political arena of the very worst America has to offer. Hillary may have the political experience, but look at the many incidents she has escaped unscathed from. Donald may have the corporate experience, but he has represented the 1% his entire life.
As a Delawarean, I see my own state divided into three parts: Hillary, Donald, and neither. I fear Hillary the most because of rumors surrounding our own Governor, Jack Markell, vying for the US Secretary of Education spot under a second President Clinton. I fear Donald because he is a racist maniac playing on the fear of Americans. I fear Hillary because she caters to big corporations and has been paid handsomely for those efforts through the Clinton foundation or campaign contributions. I fear Donald because he will land us into a bad war (if not nuclear) if he continues his rhetoric. I support neither and there is no other viable choice that could get enough votes so neither of them become President. What this country needs, right now, is a revolution. We need to overturn both parties and do something. I don’t know if that is even possible at this point, but if we want to save America, we really have no choice. If the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, we need to rise above the fears of the supporters of both candidates and do the right thing for America and openly revolt against the two-party system that is killing our country.
As reported by Randall Chase with the Associated Press yesterday, Delaware’s Cyber Security Advisory Council kicked off their first meeting with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) violation. But what the article didn’t cover was how the state tried to cover its tracks after the meeting.
James Collins, the state’s chief information officer and head of the council, then said the panel would meet in executive session, even though Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act requires that such closed-door meetings be noticed ahead of time.
But do they have the ability to time travel into the future to give that notice? Apparently, they do!
This is the agenda for the first meeting as shown on Delaware’s Public Meeting Calendar website.
It looks like they have everything covered, right? Including a FOIA Exemption Proposal because they know they are violating FOIA. Here is the page from the Public Meeting Calendar website:
Looks okay to me, right?
In the above picture, taken from the bottom left-hand corner of the Public Meeting Calendar notice, it shows three change dates. 3/3/2016 was the original posting of the meeting, 3/22/2016 I would assume had the addition of the FBI Agent giving the briefing on the unclassified threat, and the 3/23/2016 change was to give notice about the group going into executive session to discuss the unclassified threat. So maybe Randall Chase got it all wrong, right?
Nope. This picture is the properties of the PDF. If you right-click with your mouse on a PDF, it tells you when a PDF was created and modified. This PDF was actually created yesterday, 3/23/2016 at 3:17:16pm. It was a brand new agenda. The part blacked out is my own personal location for my computer which I didn’t think was necessary to throw out there so I will fully admit I blacked it out in the picture.
Someone should really file a FOIA complaint on this one to the Delaware Department of Justice! Oh wait, I already did…
You won’t find this on the News Journal. Or on Freire’s Facebook page either. But the school had a bomb threat today which caused at least seven Wilmington police cars to come to the school. After the police investigated, the students were allowed back in the school an hour later. Not confirmed is a school authority advising a local resident that several students were suspended and the matter is still being investigated. Were parents of the students notified about this? Where is the transparency in our Delaware charter schools???
As well, there have been at least five visits by the Wilmington Fire Department at the school since they opened in August over fire alarms.
Freire Charter School of Wilmington opened in August after a hellacious year involving issues with the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association. When the neighbors protested the school’s opening without a clear plan on the increased traffic, the former Head of School got into an exchange with one of the protesters which resulted in charges filed against him. He “resigned” from the school shortly thereafter. Freire’s original model was a “zero tolerance” charter school, but they changed that last year because of the “specific interest” clause in their admission policy. They applied for a federal grant for startup costs which specifically prohibits any type of specific interest in their enrollment strategies. The above picture is the emblem of Freire, but I’m not sure what a fire-breathing dragon has to do with a charter school…
Meanwhile, Delaware legislators in Washington D.C. wrote the FBI to look into the multiple bomb threats across Delaware the past few weeks and when the FBI should act on this. According to the article by the Middletown Transcript, only state and local authorities have been investigating the Delaware threats.