Saturday, February 17, 2007

When a Rose is not a Rose

I suggest that as many people as possible call the Special Investigator’s office and ask him to investigate why Rose and Cerf were hired as consultants for DOE when they had clear conflicts of interest – and in Rose’s case, the company he managed was about to be cited by the Special Investigator’s office for unethical if not illegal practices, which officials at Tweed must surely have been aware of when he was taken on as a consultant.

Also, ask that the office look into why Rose and Cerf were recently hired as high level, full time employees, without being required to wait three years, as is the practice for CEC members, and in Cerf’s case, w/out being asked to divest himself of Edison stock.

Special Investigator Hot Line: (877) 888-8355

Every person who calls the hotline receives a case number and a pledge that an investigator assigned to the case will contact them shortly. The more of us who call, the more likely it is that they will take their responsibility to look into this matter seriously.

Leonie Haimson

Class Size Matters

Exec in student 'bribe' flap gets hired by city

The Education Department has hired the former head of a tutoring company that was slammed last year for "bribing" students and allowing people with criminal records to interact with kids.

Joel Rose, the former general manager of the Newton Learning company, was hired last month as the $149,000-a-year chief of staff to Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf, school officials said.

Newton is a division of Edison Schools, the controversial for-profit company where Cerf served as president before becoming a city schools consultant early 2006. Rose worked with Cerf on the same consulting contract.

Newton was the subject of scathing report last year by special schools investigator Richard Condon, who found that the company failed to do criminal checks on employees who interacted with kids - including some who had been arrested for robbery and drug dealing.

Condon also found the company was one of several that had used money and gifts to lure kids into tutoring programs. Tutoring companies are paid based on how many kids attend their classes.

Schools spokesman David Cantor said Rose had a "distinguished educational career" and that his "role in designing Children First reforms over the past year has been invaluable."

Originally published on February 16, 2007




NY Post

February 16, 2007 -- One of the architects of the city's initiative giving schools more autonomy got the job after he secured nearly $10 million in Department of Education contracts for a private firm he headed, it was revealed yesterday.

Joel Rose led Newton Learning partway through the 2005-06 school year, when it got $9.6 million to tutor students.

He was selected by Chancellor Joel Klein in January 2006 to join a team designing the "empowerment" program authorizing schools that meet performance standards to exercise more control over their curriculum and budget.

Rose last month became chief of staff to Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf, who is under fire for refusing to admit publicly that he held an equity stake in Edison Schools, a commercial public-school operator, while working for the DOE. Edison is Newton's parent company.

A Klein spokesman said Rose - who is paid $149,000 - ended his involvement with Newton when he started his new job.


School Official's Company Was Probed for Bad Business

Staff Reporter of the Sun
February 16, 2007

The former general manager of a tutoring company that was investigated for improper business practices in its dealings with the city public schools now works for the Department of Education, as Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf's chief of staff.

Joel Rose ran Newton Learning, a subsidiary of the for-profit school management company Edison Schools Inc., which provides tutoring to students at failing schools. Newton Learning was investigated for offering incentives to students and schools to choose its services, soliciting students even after the education department warned it not to, and allowing its employees to interact with students before receiving fingerprint clearance.

Yesterday, Mr. Cerf, the deputy chancellor of external affairs and human capital, declined to answer questions about Mr. Rose after a speech in which he promoted the school system overhaul. Later, a department spokesman, David Cantor, said the investigation into Newton's business practices was minor and had not affected the department's decision to hire Mr. Rose.

"We feel very comfortable knowing his work," Mr. Cantor said.

Mr. Rose, who started his career as a teacher in the Teach For America program, managed Newton for three years, including the period of the investigation by the special commissioner of investigation for the school district, Richard Condon. In the report, the only action investigators recommended was that Newton be reminded of department policies.

Mr. Rose left before the report was issued to become a consultant for the Department of Education in January 2006; he was paid with private money from the Fund for Public Schools, a nonprofit organization chaired by Chancellor Joel Klein. As a consultant, he worked on the chancellor's latest plan to overhaul the school bureaucracy.

He was hired at the Department of Education at the beginning of the year, about a week after Mr. Cerf, the former president of Edison Schools. His responsibilities include managing the $125 million central budget and restructuring the Division of Human Resources as a part of the bureaucracy overhaul.

Mr. Cantor said Mr. Rose has no financial interest in Edison. Last week, when parents and reporters questioned him about it, Mr. Cerf initially would not say when he had given up his Edison stock options. A Times article disclosed that he had done so the day before he expected to be questioned.

Mr. Cantor said no former Edison Schools employees currently work in the upper echelons of the department bureaucracy other than Messrs. Rose and Cerf. The department also has said it does not believe their previous links to Edison would be a conflict of interest.


NEW YORK TIMES | February 16, 2007
Metro Briefing | New York: Manhattan: Schools Official Named

Chris Cerf, a deputy schools chancellor and former president of Edison Schools Inc., has hired as his chief of staff a former Edison official who ran a tutoring program criticized by investigators who found “questionable practices” in the city public schools. The chief of staff, Joel Rose, was from 2003 until 2006 the general manager of Newton Learning SES, an Edison division established to tutor children under the No Child Left Behind law. Last year, a report by the special commissioner of investigation for the public schools found that Newton had failed to conduct fingerprint and background checks of some workers, offered students gift certificates for attending tutoring sessions, and directly solicited students after being warned not to by the Education Department. After leaving Newton, Mr. Rose served as a consultant to the Education Department. Mr. Cerf declined to comment. An Education Department spokesman, David Cantor, said Mr. Rose was recovering from surgery and unavailable for comment but described his work with the department as “invaluable.”.

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