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Journalist Sarah Darrr Littman read the full investigative report about the FUSE charter scandal and here presents some of the seamy details, the fraud, and abuse of public authority.
To begin with, the FUSE charter organization was the favorite of state officials. There was no accountability, transparency, or oversight.
FUSE was invited to take over a school in Bridgeport;
“When questioned by then-Bridgeport school board member Maria Periera about why the same resources couldn’t be devoted to a district school without having to pay an outside organization like FUSE, Paul Vallas’ Chief Administrative Officer, Sandra Kase, said, “it was often not a matter of money but knowing what to do with the money. She said that the Dunbar School was still a district school with a partnership with FUSE, an organization that knows how to use increased funding well.”
I guess that depends on your definition of “well.” Marilyn Taylor, brought in by FUSE from Louisiana as the new Dunbar School principal, was arraigned on larceny charges last Friday, the day the report dropped.
When Taylor started, she and FUSE were lauded by then-Superintendent Paul Vallas, according to a report in the CTPost:
“The transformation will be extraordinary, because this group has done it in the past,” Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas told a large crowd of students, parents, community members, who were treated to a hot dog barbecue, free backpacks, and a chance to meet teachers and other staff members. Before the event was over, state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor also put in an appearance.”
It appears that Ms. Taylor may not have wanted it to stop at free backpacks. She is alleged to have withdrawn more than $10,000 in school funds for personal expenses, including from ATMs at the Mohegan Sun Casino.”
When FUSE was awarded another school in Néw Haven, the letters of endorsement were filled with praise for the chain’s track record of “success.”
“That depends on your definition of “success,” doesn’t it? If “success” constitutes feathering your own nest at the expense of taxpayers, behaving unethically, and acting in such a way that even the parents at your own school “have questions about accountability for the financial piece,” as stated in the FUSE Board of Trustees minutes dated Oct. 10, 2013, I guess FUSE did have that track record.
“Listening to these same enablers say that “it’s for the kids” while they fleece the public purse is infuriating. But what really enrages me is knowing that there are so many fine educators in classrooms across this state trying to teach and help children day in and day out while being deprived of basic resources, while politicians are allowing our taxpayer dollars to be siphoned off by crooks.”