Family Foundations Academy Saved By State Board As They Get Ravitched

The Delaware State Board of Education renewed the charter of Family Foundations Academy at their board meeting on March 19th.  The school is under a probation clause for six months, and they must give paperwork to the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education each month for half a year.  EastSide Charter essentially took over the school after Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington were terminated for stealing over $90,000 from one of the school’s accounts earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the famous education blogger Diane Ravitch picked up on the original story about Moore and Brewington yesterday.  Delaware doesn’t come up often on her blog, but she covers education on a national level.  Her blog gets 25,000 to 100,000 readers on a daily basis, so a lot of people read about FFA yesterday!  She did refer to Moore and Brewington as co-founders, but Moore came on the scene later.  To read the full Ravitchization of Family Foundations, please go here: http://dianeravitch.net/2015/03/21/delaware-charter-founders-fired-for-alleged-misuse-of-public-money/comment-page-1/#comment-2301018

Eastside and Family Foundations Overlords Getting Rather Snippy With DOE, Overreaching A Bit…

The Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee made it’s final recommendations in regards to Family Foundations Academy.  Their decision: the charter school stays open with a probationary status for one year.  I think that is more than fair given that the EastSide takeover is an untried experiment in Delaware.

This is a school that had it’s fair share of issues prior to the takeover.  Ex Heads of School Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington collectively embezzled over $100,000 from the school and lest we forget, there were many cultural and academic events going on.  The Delaware Department of Education and State Board of Education received many complaints about FFA, including special education issues, discipline problems, and staff complaints.

For it’s part, there are several board members at FFA who also serve on EastSide’s board, and many staff members serving dual roles, including the financial director and head of school.  Running essentially three schools could be stretching anyone to the max, but EastSide does appear to walk on water.

Given the circumstances with an untested arrangement, what went down at FFA, and the fact that this school was very close to getting shut down, you would think Dr. Lamont Browne and Charles McDowell would be grateful for the reprieve.  But no, they have to be arrogant about the whole thing.  The fact they would have an issue with the CSAC requesting a different auditor at the end of this year is testament to this fact.  The school hasn’t (as of this letter) even had a first meeting with their Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee, and there is little proof FFA even had one prior to last fall.  And given what I’m hearing is going on in charterville with money matters, they should count themselves lucky.

The letter also reported Moore and Brewington reached a settlement agreement.  Who was this settlement with?  Cause the last I heard the duo were heading to the Attorney General’s office!  That would be a criminal matter.  Browne and McDowell need to check their egos at the door when they go to the State Board of Education meeting this coming Thursday, March 19th.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the State Board of Education will render their final decision on the long, bizarre FFA saga.

 

Say What? Sean Moore and Dr. Brewington Want Their Jobs Back at Family Foundations Academy

In the initial formal review report for Family Foundations Academy, there was a brief notation on the former heads of school, Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington.  Despite allegations of fraud and embezzlement, as well as a report sent to the Attorney General’s office, they have appealed to get their jobs back.  Yes, you heard that right.  I’m sure it will happen, as sure as I am that Republicans will win every seat in the House and Senate in Delaware in the next election!

There are many very interesting tidbits to read in this report, but two notable absences not mentioned in the report are Monique Dolcy from FFA and Charter School Accountability Committee member Chuck Taylor.

 

Next Stop For Ex Family Foundations Heads Brewington & Moore: Attorney General’s Office

Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington, the fired ex heads of school at Family Foundations Academy, a charter school in Delaware, will soon be facing potential criminal charges through the State Attorney General office.  According to an Update Report filed with the Delaware Department of Education on January 30th from the new Board of Directors at Family Foundations Academy, Brewington and Moore’s past actions have been sent to Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn’s office.

“All information concerning past possible criminal violations by FFA personnel has been referred to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.”

In addition, five prior business contracts with Family Foundations Academy have been terminated, and three were modified.  All purchase cards have been taken away from employees with the exception of Dr. Lamont Browne and East Side Charter and Family Foundations Academy Director of Finance and Operations.  But these purchase cards may return at some point:

“although we are seeking to have that capability restored because it is very burdensome to conduct business without having the use of that facility, and we have full confidence in the appropriate use of the Pcard under Dr. Browne’s leadership and supervision.”

Family Foundations Academy was placed on Formal Review by Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware State Board of Education at their January meeting.  The formal review will be for 60 days after the January State Board of Education meeting, and a decision on the review will be rendered at the March State Board of Education meeting.  To read the full Update Report, please read the below file.

 

UPDATED! Family Foundations Academy Fate Decided: Handed Over To Eastside Charter, Placed On Formal Review

Today at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, it was decided the school would be handed over to Eastside Charter School.  The 6-1 vote by the Delaware State Board of Education renews the embattled school’s charter but does place them on formal review.

The room was packed with new board members and supporters of the school.  While the State Board did discuss many of the financial problems with the school, they did agree to give this new board a chance.  Board member Whittaker did not vote for the charter’s renewal.

The Formal Review is based on the charter’s Organizational and Financial parts of their framework.  State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office has not released their official audit at this point which could conceivably shed more light on the financial mismanagement at the Wilmington charter school while under the leadership of ex-heads of school Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington.

Updated: A lot more information behind the collaboration between the Delaware Charter Schools Network, Family Foundations Academy and Eastside Charter School can be seen here by the awesome WHYY/Newsworks education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/77394-delaware-spares-troubled-charter-school?linktype=hp_topstory

I’m guessing the State Board of Education gave the charter a sixty day formal review for a couple reasons. 1) To see what may come out of Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, and 2) To see if the Eastside crew can actually manage to do double the work for two schools.  None of the standardized test cheating I have written about, which has been reported to me by more than one source, was even touched upon by the State Board of Education.  Nor was the special education issues brought up by the prior board.  I guess since Markell’s Charter Love Child, Eastside Charter, swooped in and saved the day all is forgiven.  Don’t get me wrong, I would hate to see any child sent to a new school if they don’t have to.  But the charter system in Delaware has so much rot and corruption at so many of it’s schools, or just plain incompetence.  In FFA’s board minutes for 12/31/14, one of the board members actually asked about getting a Staples card to help with the technology to pay all the outstanding invoices.  It’s called a clue buddy…  I’m sure this Eastside board is much more experienced with these types of things, but I remain unconvinced that some of the administration will be able to carry the weight should Eastside ever exit this partnership.

Big Changes At Family Foundations Academy: Moore & Brewington Terminated With Cause, Board Members Resign

At the Family Foundations Academy Board meeting last night, Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington, previously suspended with leave, were terminated by the board.  This ends their long tenure with the school amidst allegations of financial impropriety and mismanagement.

Two other board members, Byron Brooks and Gregory Smith resigned.  Out of the original board, only Monnica May and Rayne Fletcher remain.  There were five new additions to the board: Jocelyn Stewart, Faculty member Jason Casper, and three Eastside Charter Board members are coming over to the FFA board- Charlie McDowell, Thomas Humphrey and Charles Tolliver.  Sadly, I was not given any consideration in my bid for a board seat.  I think I’ll be okay.

With the new board, there is much more diversity.  Previously, the board had been all mostly all male African-Americans, but now there are four Caucasian and three African-American members with two of them being female and five male.  Dr. Lamont Browne from Eastside Charter will be supervising the situation at Family Foundations for the foreseeable future.

The big question will be if these changes are enough for the Delaware Department of Education, who will decide on the embattled school’s charter renewal this Thursday, January 15th, at the State Board of Education meeting.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the State Board will determine if the school will remain open after the end of this school year.

Uh-oh! Looks like we got a bleeder here! What has Family Foundations Academy done now?

Yes, I know.  Not another Family Foundations article.  When’s he going to do the long-awaited Rodel follow-up?  As my friend Wilson Jomama once said about another recent charter scandal, it’s like staring at the sun.

Please enjoy the theme music while we look at yet another big oops at this Wilmington charter school.  As mentioned initially on Kilroy’s first FFA Explosion article by a parent, their December 2nd Board meeting had a rather public situation involving a special needs student.  Please read the minutes from this meeting.  While this school has clear transparency issues, this outing of a student was about as transparent as Saran Wrap!

So what did they do wrong?  They looked like pretty concise board minutes to me.  But there’s just that tiny, little baby of a hiccup called student privacy.  I was shocked when I saw a parent commenting on this on Kilroy’s, but to actually see it in their board minutes was shocking!

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Yes, they fully revealed a student discipline problem of a student on a 504 plan.  While they didn’t reveal the name of the student, which they proudly boasted in their meeting minutes, unless they have multiple students who bite, kick and hit teachers, this student is easily identifiable.  Not only is this a violation of FERPA, but also Section 504 which is protected by the Office of Civil Rights.  Why the hell would they discuss a discipline issue with a particular student in a public forum like that?  And one with special needs?

It looks like this may have been a cover.  Not that the student wasn’t experiencing those issues (Lord only knows what fresh hell that poor kid was going through at this school), but it was also an impetus for a spotlight to be shown on Dr. Tennell Brewington.  In the minutes there is a whole part about her not using the Child Study Team and the Climate Team to help this student.  Here’s a novel idea, maybe they should have used an IEP Team!!!!  Sorry, no matter what this student may have done as a manifestation of their disability, this public roasting of this student has many violations.  If I were the parent of this student, I would not only be contacting the FERPA department at the US DOE, but also the OCR Office as well.

By the end of the meeting, after executive session, it was announced Dr. Brew was going on a 90 day paid leave of absence.  No explanation was given, but that’s none of our damn business when you read the harsh notes at the end when a member of the public DARED to ask about it.  I wonder what could have caused such a rift between Brewmoore?  Could it…no…maybe…possibly have been a… sorry folks, this isn’t Soap Opera Digest!

Staring at the sun indeed!  If that other recent charter school scandal caused some sun glare, this one is a Super Nova!

If you are sad the holidays are over, do not lament, because Family Foundations Academy is like the gift that keeps on giving…and giving…and giving…and giving!

 

 

 

The Full Family Foundations Academy Audit, and the State Audit isn’t even done yet!

As Kilroy and NewsWorks wrote, the full financial audit for Family Foundations Academy by Auphsite Consulting has been released by the Delaware Department of Education.  I have to say, I was suspicious of Auphsite at first.  When I viewed the initial 40 page audit, I thought it was odd.  When I heard about a 200 page audit, I assumed it was the state audit that was being done.  But then I heard it was still being worked on.  I had no idea this was also done as it was just put on the DOE website yesterday.

I seriously think criminal charges should be leveled against this Dynamic Duo.  There are a lot of low-income children in this school, but the heads of school treated funding like it was their own personal ATM machine.  And this only covers a certain period of time.  What about before that?  And sorry, I don’t believe for one second Sean Moore stopped using the p-card after this audit.  What about all those very high Comcast Spotlight charges Sean?  The ones done very recently?  I did see on your Instagram page that you had some fun courtside at a Sixers game recently.  But the big kicker: you two used a loan for Capital improvements to pay for your purchases.  You two are either the dumbest people I’ve ever met thinking you wouldn’t get caught, or the two smartest because the DOE turned a blind eye to it for years!  Was the John Legend concert in NYC a school field trip?

Auphsite recommended the following after completing the audit:

According to Kilroy there is an even bigger bomb to drop with this school.  Is that something with the attorney firm in Philadelphia they paid $300,000 to in 2014?  Or certain Mercedes Benz purchases?  Or certain purchases on a state purchase card that were bought and paid for and then sold through a Paypal account to members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity?  Or the fact that Providence Creek Academy and Family Foundations Academy switched to the same auditor for their 2013-2014 charter school audit?  Don’t forget Chuck Taylor and Sean Moore were on the governing board at the Delaware Charter Schools Network and even though Chuck is no longer Head of School at PCA, a family member has a very vested interest in that school and Chuck is STILL President of the DCSN Governing Board.  Or is there something even bigger out there waiting to be revealed?

Lest we forget, there is also the audit by Delaware Auditor of Accounts Tom Wagner’s office.  Will that reveal even more?  An anonymous commenter wrote last week that Sean Moore was suspended from the school.  If he is out, and Dr. Brewington is on extended leave of absence, who is running the school?  And will anyone go after the Delaware DOE for allowing the heads of this school to use state credit cards for personal use?

To read more about this deeply troubled Wilmington charter school, please read NewsWorks article by Avi Wolfman Arent at http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/delaware/item/76803-audit-details-financial-impropriety-at-delaware-charter?l=df

 

Family Foundations Acad. Head of School Sean Moore No Longer Treasurer of Delaware Charter School Network

That was quick!  Two days ago, the Delaware Charter School Network Governing Board had Family Foundations Academy Head of School Sean Moore listed as their treasurer.  Today, he is no longer listed as a member of the board.  It seems even the great charter school cheerleading organization wants to distance themselves from the controversial Moore.  One individual loosely connected with the network, who wished to remain anonymous, said “Sean Moore is toxic to anyone associated with him right now.  I’m not surprised at all.”

Family Foundations Academy is now under financial investigation by the Delaware State Auditor of Accounts, and sources tell me Tom Wagner is overseeing this case.  Expect more news on this soon.  Once the regular media jumps on this story, it will blow up quick.  But remember, Kilroy broke this story first, and I quickly jumped on it.  And who says blogs are crap?

DE Charter School Network Connections With Family Foundations Academy Disaester

The embattled Head of School for Family Foundation Academy, Sean Moore, is also the treasurer for the Delaware Charter School Network.  On the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) is Chuck Taylor, who is the President of the Governing Board of the Delaware Charter School Network.  Taylor is listed on the CSAC Voting Committee as a “community member” and “former charter school leader”.

It is obvious there could be a large conflict of interest with Taylor and Moore serving on the same board.  Taylor, in my opinion, should have recused himself from dealing with this school’s charter renewal, especially in light of the forthcoming financial improprieties that will be coming out shortly.  But the very fact Taylor is listed as “community member” and not his true role, and the fact that Kendall Massett, the executive director of the DE Charter School Network is allowed to ask questions during a charter renewal committee meeting is suspect in itself.  The DE Charter School Network is a non-profit company whose mission is to support the charter schools in their network.  But it is obvious they have way too much influence at the DOE.  If they want to act like union reps, they should call themselves that.

Things keep piling up against Family Foundations Academy, the charter school in Wilmington, DE that is up for charter renewal.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make a decision at the Delaware State Board of Education  meeting on Thursday, December 18th.

During the schools initial charter school renewal meeting on October 14th, the board and heads of school were grilled by the CSAC, and you can see where, in my opinion, Chuck Taylor crossed the line.  It’s a lengthy read, but goes into a lot of what has been already released.  But don’t think this is the end for Family Foundations, there will be more coming.

I’ve written the DOE gave Family Foundations Academy a pass while Gateway and Reach were given a trip to the guillotine, but I don’t think things are looking too good for this Animal House charter.