Adelaide L. Sanford Charter School

NEWARK — Bobby and Troy Shanks saw the handwriting on the wall last year with the Adelaide L. Sanford Charter School in Newark when federal officials filed a lawsuit against the school...

The embattled charter school, opened in 2007 by longtime activist Fredrica Bey, had been on probation for more than a year. The school is also facing a complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s office which contends Bey took $345,325 in federal grant money earmarked for programs to keep "at-risk" youths off of the streets and instead used it used it to pay bills for the Women In Support of the Million Man March, a non-profit community group she started in 1995.

The state also expressed concerns about the conflicts of interest between the school’s leadership and the school’s agreement to lease space from WISOMMM...


NEWARK — Linda Newton enrolled her 8-year-old son at Adelaide L. Sanford Charter School to shield him from the ills that afflict many of Newark’s regular public schools.

She has regretted that decision every day since.

Last summer, nearly all of the troubled school’s two dozen teachers resigned, and students were hastily relocated to a downtown building that parents say is not equipped for their children. Some students climb five flights of stairs to reach their classrooms in the hulking former church.

Other kids have no classrooms at all, sharing space in a vast multipurpose room where academic instruction is often interrupted by the clapping and stomping of a dance class some 50 feet away.

Parents and teachers complain of a shortage of textbooks, an insufficient heating system and a lack of discipline for rowdy students, leading to fights and bullying.

At least half of the 339 kids enrolled on the first day of school have left, though some have been replaced with new recruits, the parents and teachers said. Test scores are among the bottom 10 percent in the state...

But a Star-Ledger examination of the school and its leadership reveals a faltering institution that provides bare-bones learning facilities while using millions of dollars in state and federal aid, bolstering a real estate fiefdom controlled by the school’s founder, Fredrica Bey.

A fiery community activist with political pull, Bey has come under intense scrutiny by both the state Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department, which accuses her of fraud in a civil suit. That case, unrelated to Adelaide Sanford, is expected to come to trial later this year, barring a last-minute settlement.

The Star-Ledger review found that school officials — including Bey’s daughter and longtime friends — approved hugely inflated rental payments to Women in Support of the Million Man March, a community group Bey founded, for space the school doesn’t use. An attorney who specializes in nonprofit law said the arrangement smacks of a "sham transaction."

At the same time, investigators with the state Education Department determined Bey may have broken the law by using a possibly invalid school lease as the bedrock document to obtain an $8.27 million loan. The investigators recommended that the Division of Criminal Justice look into the matter.

The newspaper’s examination — encompassing court records, Education Department reports, financial documents and dozens of interviews — also found a pattern of recalcitrance by Bey and school officials, who repeatedly ignored state directives, according to documents obtained under the Open Public Records Act.

In particular, the state has accused Adelaide Sanford for more than a year of refusing to comply with regulations, turn over records or eliminate clear conflicts of interest, chiefly the dual roles Bey held as executive director of both the school and her group, known in the community by its acronym, WISOMMM...

Revered by some and feared by others, Bey, 68, has built a reputation as a powerful figure in New Jersey’s largest city, with friends in political, cultural and activist circles, along with a direct line to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

But she has also periodically drawn scrutiny from law enforcement officials investigating allegations of fraud. Most recently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office last year sued Bey and WISOMMM, alleging violations of the False Claims Act...


Anonymous said...

Diane Ravitch posted an insider essay on her blog showing how bad the Klein/Black/Walcott education policies were in New York City, Includes a whole section on charter schools.

Ranch Chimp said...

Thank You much for the reads here, I wanted to link your blog to my blog on the issue of this charter school game we see growing in our nation, this is nothing but pure corruption and hasnt a bloody thing to do with higher quality academics. Another reason and backdoor strategies to try to privatize and puppetize our children for this neo- corporate communism basically.

- Politically Depressed the Ranch Chimp Journal