Orlando Sentinel (login required) reporter Lauren Roth has this:
The failed Orange County charter school that gave its principal a payout of $519,000 in taxpayer dollars after closing in June also paid her husband more than $460,000 during a five-year period, audits show.
The payments to Steven A. Young, which averaged more than $80,000 a year, were for performing “certain management services,” according to annual audits paid for by the school. The total included about $41,000 for services to be performed after the school closed, according to one of the audits.
Young, husband of NorthStar High School Principal Kelly Young, helped establish the charter school 11 years ago and was its first board president. He resigned from the NorthStar board in August 2008, the same month he was arraigned on charges of soliciting prostitutes while on duty as an Orange County sheriff’s commander. He was ultimately adjudicated guilty of three charges and lost his law-enforcement job. He is now a divorce attorney.
The payments to Steven Young appear to violate state law prohibiting public officers and employees from doing business with family members, according to legal and charter-school experts. The law states that no employee or officer may purchase services “from any business entity of which the officer or employee or the officer’s or employee’s spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor.”
Sen. David Simmons (R-Maitland) does his best Claude Raines:
“I don’t believe we have to stand by idly and watch this abuse,” said state Sen. David Simmons, who sits on two state education committees and is also a lawyer. “Those are monies that should come back to the people of Central Florida.”
Yet standing idly by is what Simmons and his republican colleagues in the legislature h. ave been doing. Local elected school boards no longer have the final say in denying charter school contracts. Political appointees on the State Board of Education with strong charter school ties now frequently overrule school boards.
The FDOE department tasked with overseeing charter schools is led by a former to lobbyist for charter schools in Michael Kooi and a one-time charter school owner in Adam Miller. Kooi’s reaction to McCay scholarship abuse in 2011 was to attack the messenger. Kooi also looked away when Academica charter schools were double dipping. It was these schools which Kooi lobbied for prior to beind named to his state post. He was top lobbyist for the consortium of the schools. Miller most recently released a hastily prepared glowing report on the state ‘s charter schools after a study indicated they weren’t performing as well as public schools.
So the state agency supposedly responsible for oversight, serves more as flack for charter schools while running interference for cronies.
As Florida taxpayers sit by, the only education policy-maker who matters in Jeb Bush is planning more charter school chicanery with another run at parent trigger legislation. Bush who takes money from Florida’s largest charter corporation in Charter Schools USA and testing giant Pearson, no longer lists his corporate partners on his foundations web site. So much for transparency.