There is a very serious problem associated with deregulation of public school funding turned over to privately managed charter schools. The absence of oversight and auditing facilitates criminal schemes, such as the one that was just revealed in Dayton, where three men were convicted of bribery and other charges.
A federal jury in U.S. District Court on Tuesday convicted three men of bribery and conspiracy charges connected to their work for Arise! Academy, a Dayton area charter school that operated from 2004 to 2010.
Federal prosecutors said two Arise board members — Christopher D. Martin, 44, of Springfield and Kristal N. Screven of Dayton — and school superintendent Shane K. Floyd, 42, of Strongsville conspired to steer lucrative, unbid contracts and make overpayments to Global Educational Consultants, which was co-owned by Carl L. Robinson, 47, of Durham, N.C.
Martin, Floyd and Robinson were convicted Tuesday in a jury trial of the bribery and conspiracy charges and Martin and Floyd were also convicted of lying to FBI investigators. Martin and Floyd face up to 20 years in prison while Robinson could be sentenced to up to 15 years.
Screven, 39, pleaded guilty on May 8 to one criminal count of conspiracy to commit bribery and faces up to five years in prison. Screven had originally been charged with conspiracy, bribery and witness intimidation for allegedly telling a witness to lie to the grand jury.
Arise! paid Global $420,919 over 15 months, starting in September 2008 at a time when the charter school had trouble paying its bills and staff, according to federal investigators.
In exchange for the consulting contract, Robinson paid Floyd and Martin thousands of dollars in cash and other benefits, like an all-expense -paid Las Vegas trip taken by Martin.
The defendants may be required to forfeit the $420,919 paid to Global Educational Consultants.
Floyd and Robinson knew one another well and had previously formed another educational consulting firm together — a fact they concealed from other Arise board members, prosecutors alleged.
Martin, who served as Arise board chairman, worked as an aide to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
Beset by financial problems and poor academic performance, Arise charter school closed its doors in June 2010.
This statement by one of the men who was convicted is priceless:
In 2009, when Arise paychecks were bouncing, vendors went unpaid and staff took a 20 percent pay cut, Floyd told the Dayton Daily News: “These pains, these wounds are great now; I understand that and I sympathize with the staff here to take a cut like that. But I do commend their determination and the willingness to still go about the business of educating our young people.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about the kids,” he said.
Remember that: “At the end of the day, it’s about the kids.”
Scoundrels used to wave the bloody flag (the blood of patriots, that is) and wrap themselves in their patriotism; now, they say, “It’s all about the kids.”