Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tales of Corruption at the NY State Ed Department

NYSED is corrupt and provides cover for numerous corrupt school districts and, now, charters. Some time folks should compare NYS Comptroller audit reports with NYSED's various district monitoring reports, etc. We have a complete failure of an education governance situation here, and whether any particular school, district or charter (or private school, or state-approved private special ed. school) will get a bad report out of some NYSED staffer is totally dependant on the observed entity's political pull.

The examples you cite are appalling - but honest, there are ones just as bad for public school districts. In fact, a few years ago, the USDOE OIG audited one Long Island district - or tried to - and reported publicly that it was "unauditable." NYSED did a snit on the OIG, but the fact is that the district's own auditors reported it had stopped keeping any records at all re what staff paid with Title 1 funds did and strongly recommended that such records be maintained again. The outside auditors made the same negative findings and recommendations 3 years in a row. NYSED received these audits and had a legal responsibility to do something to enforce corrective action and did absolutely nothing at all - then the USDOE OIG stepped in. And the district was forced to refund a lot of Title 1 money to the feds ... over NYSED's dead body. Wyandanch, if anyone cares.

Don't ask about what NYSED does when it gets a call stating that a public school district administrator is molesting a child. I did ... once ... at a professional conference on school molestation of students by adults, and the reply simply sickened me. If it was a charter administrator alleged to be doing the molesting ... result would be exactly the same.

Whatever NYSED exists for, it does not exist for the furtherance of NY children's educations. Not by a long shot.

Dee Alpert, Publisher

Leonie Haimson wrote:

Love this one:

For example, when State Education Department staff recommended the renewal of Western New York Maritime Charter School’s charter, the supporting memorandum praised the school’s new-found stability – an oblique reference to four principals, or commanders, in four years. The SED staff memo said the school had “faced and met many challenges” and had “learned from its experiences.” “The school has promptly and satisfactorily addressed any and all issues identified in its annual audits and by the Office of the State Comptroller,” the SED memo stated. “The School has implemented (and will continue to implement) strong fiscal monitoring procedures and internal controls.”[1]

The State Education Department memo, however, did not reference the fact that the Erie County district attorney had filed criminal charges against management for misappropriating $95,000 from 2005 to 2007; that the school could not account for nearly $10,000 in federal grants; that the school’s parent-teacher group had complained that its funds had been stolen; and that charter management had hired an administrator with a criminal record.[2]

Five months ago, the State Education Department recommended the renewal of the Niagara Charter School’s charter, despite a finding of “misallocation of funds.” The monitoring report, which was not made public,[3] called the Niagara Charter School “a school in disarray” and noted, “There is, at the very least, the pervasive appearance of fiscal mismanagement and less than ethical behavior on part of the Board of Trustees and school administration.”[4] Staff recommended and the Regents approved a three-year renewal of the Niagara Charter School’s charter. [5]

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

[1] SED staff memo to Board of Regents recommending charter renewal, December 8, 2008.

[2] Buffalo News, March 18, 2010

[3] Record made available by State Education Department upon specific request, following school’s renewal

[4] State Education Department, Comprehensive Monitoring Report, March 11-12, 2008

[5] Memorandum to EMSC Committee, December 4, 2009 and minutes of the January meeting, Board of Regents

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