Monday, February 22, 2010

Charter School Scams Go On as DOE Forced to Cancel Co-Location

UPDATED, Monday, Feb. 22, 3pm

The Daily News is reporting today that two DOE officials also serve as board members of a charter school seeking space from the DOE.


The city has pulled the plug on a deal to house a controversial charter school in a Bronx school building.

The surprise move came after questions from the Daily News about the charter's current and former board members - two of whom hold powerful jobs at the Education Department.

"It's clear the [Education Department] checked its facts and the numbers just didn't add up," said Dick Dadey, executive director of the Citizens Union. "This was a bad decision that raised all kinds of ethical issues."

Last month, the New York City Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries won the prized space inside Alfred E. Smith High School, which is being phased down.

Irma Zardoya, a high-ranking Education Department consultant who works at its Tweed headquarters, is the chairwoman of the charter school's board.

Santiago Taveras - an interim acting deputy chancellor with the Education Department - was a board member for the charter until June.

From Patrick Sullivan

Below is a note I sent to one of them, Irma Zardoya. I never got a response.

Ms. Zardoya,

I understand you currently chair the board of the New York City Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries (AECI), which is seeking space in a Board of Ed facility currently housing the Al Smith HS. I am a member of the Panel for Educational Policy and will vote on this proposal.

At the same time you hold this position with AECI, you appear to be a DOE employee or at least have an administrative role at DOE as "Executive Director of Children's First Initiative". Here I list your directory information.

Name Phone Office Title Company
Zardoya Irma (212) 374-4243 Executive Director of Children First Intensive NYCDOE

I have some questions for you:

Can you explain your status with DOE? Are you an employee? Press accounts have identified you as a retiree.
Who pays for your compensation?
Who is your supervisor?
Has your arrangement been cleared by the Conflicts of Interest Board?

While I don't mean to intrude, it is fairly obvious that holding positions simultaneously with DOE and with a charter school seeking space from DOE could present a conflict of interest. If I am to vote to allocate Board of Ed space to your organization, I feel obligated to perform this due diligence.

Patrick J. Sullivan
Manhattan Member
Panel for Educational Policy / Board of Education
Appointed by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer

For background see:

NY Times on Bronx Charter School Scam

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