In Wake of FUSE Scandal, Connecticut Charter Schools Face Greater Scrutiny
As a new academic year gets underway, Connecticut’s charter schools face stronger scrutiny by the State Department of Education. New oversight policies will require charter schools to begin to operate more like traditional public schools.
The regulations come in the wake of an FBI probe into the troubled charter management group FUSE, the Family Urban Schools of Excellence at Jumoke Academy. The feds want to know how millions of dollars of public money was spent by the charter group, which ended up losing contracts with six charter schools in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Louisiana after revelations surfaced that the CEO’s stated academic credentials were untrue. Michael Sharpe has a criminal record, and has served two prison terms.
"This is an issue that may go to court in the future, as charter management organizations assert that they are not public agencies."
University of Connecticut Urban Education Professor Preston Green said the state is moving in the right direction by instituting stronger oversight of charter schools. One new regulation establishes anti-nepotism policies. "One of the problems with the Jumoke charter situation," he said, "is that several members of the charter school board were also related to Michael Sharpe, who was the CEO. If one is hiring relatives, then you're not getting people who are necessarily the best for the job."