Extremely unfortunately, we begin 2014 exactly the way we ended last year: with another news story revealing more sordid information about the financial irregularities regarding public funds and Options PCS. This time the Washington Post's Emma Brown tells us, among other things, that while Jeremy Williams was the D.C. Public Charter School Board's chief financial officer it is alleged he was paid $150,000 to hide the shenanigans that resulted in the school's executives diverting three million dollars to their own pockets. New court papers claim that television anchor J.C. Hayward owned shares in one of the for-profit companies established by the school's senior team as a tool to transfer money to them from the charter, and was paid $8,500 a shot to attend the firm's board meetings. The Post reporter adds this finding about the team members:
"In all, EES received $974,850 from Options for bus transportation, according to court documents. The company paid Deadwyler $309,200 to run the buses, and it paid Montgomery, Dalton and Cranford hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of the full-time salaries and bonuses they were already receiving for working at the charter school."
In fact, since early last October when the problems with Option were first uncovered, Ms. Brown has supplied us with a constant loud trickle of new evidence about corruption involving Exceptional Education Services (EES) and Exceptional Education Management Corporation (EEMC). Yet, the last time the PCSB sent out any information regarding this tragedy for our local movement was when the first article appeared. The Board did vote in December to begin the charter revocation process.
I'm afraid this whole mess is turning into a perfect example of how not to get ahead of negative publicity. Financial issues at charters scares the daylight out of the community since there is a longstanding suspicion that these schools can do what they want with no oversight. While this could not be further from the truth, silence from the PCSB on the problems surrounding Options is not building confidence out there.
In a recent editorial the executive director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools Robert Cane states that the "Options affair should be seen for what it is: an aberration." We all pray that this is the case. However, in Ms. Brown's piece an attorney for one of Option's former managers says that similar financial arrangements exist between for-profit companies and charter schools.
The specific schools were not identified. Is this something with which the PCSB can provide assistance?