I’ve been wondering when we’d see this Vaudeville act again and whether or not it was going to be about stroking Jeb Bush’s ego. (He vowed that it would be back after last year’s defeat in the senate). What better way is there to open this year’s show than to highlight a new twist of irony. SB 862’s sponsor is Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakleland). Who new that Stargel would ever be for anyone’s ability to choose charter schools? Why it was just last July when Stargel was throwing up roadblocks in front of Polk school district’s desire to open charter schools for it’s at-risk population. From Lakeland Ledger reporter Merissa Green:
State Rep. Kelli Stargel, who is a member of the House Education Committee, told The (Lakeland) Ledger in June that although taking struggling students out of the regular student population would probably increase the schools’ grades from the state, she worries about the oversight of the Step Up Academies. The student population proposed for each of these charters would be too small to meet the criteria to receive a state school grade. Stargel, R-Lakeland, said there are better ways of serving that student population, including setting up career academies instead of charter schools.
No wonder then commissioner Gerard Robinson told an incredulous with the delay, Polk superintendent Sherrie Nickel, that “something is coloring the issue.” Why a state legislator would be attempting to micromanage in a school district makes sense if Stargel’s conflicts of interest are considered. Scathing Purple Musings looked at who made campaign contributions to Stargel right after she made public her concerns about Polk Schools desire for it’s own charter schools:
Why the Polk was stalled by Tallahassee remains a mystery. But while Stargel disappeared from view, some for-profit charter school executives were sending cash contributions her way while the Polk initiative was being sorted out. In a few cases these direct contributions to Stargel were the only ones they made to any candidate during this election cycle.
Three were made by executives associated with Mavericks Charter Schools. * Mavericks in Education Inc made two contributions during this cycle. On 7/6/12 they sent $5000 to electioneering CCE Floridians for Economic Leadership. Five days ago they sent $500 to Stargel’s campaign. * On 6/22/12 Mavericks president Lauren Hollander made a $5oo contribution to Rep. Janet Adkins (Fernandina Beach).
On the same day as her company made a $500 contribution to Stargel, she did as well from her home address. *Maverick’s financial backer is Building Hope, a Washington non-profit which funds for-profit charter schools. Richard Moreno was at Maverick’s meeting with Palm Beach Schools in 2010. Moreno is the executive director of Building Hope. He has only made one contribution during the current election cycle – to Stargel for $250 just 8 days ago on 8/3/12. *Joseph Salvatore Bruno is president of Building Hope. He made a $250 donation to Stargel on the very same day as did Moreno. There is no record of Bruno making any other contributions in Florida during this election cycle.
Other charter school executives were making contributions to Stargel during this narrow window. Katia Enriquez of After School Connections mirrored Hollander’s contributions to Adkins and Stargel on almost the same dates. A “Bob” Haag and “Robert” Haag (Charter Schools for Excellence) from the same address also got contributions to Stargel. Bob on 7/25/12 for $500. Robert in a more roundabout way explained here.
Good times. Oh, and pay no attention to the additional conflict Stargel has with her husband’s seat on Rep. Seth McKeel’s board for McKeel Academy charter schools. That tricky ethics bill, you know. Prospects for additional fodder for this space will improve if the rumored sponsor of parent trigger’s House bill emerges as Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach).
I sure hope those bamboozlers from Parent Revolution come back. Can’t wait to see Shirley Ford play the race card again with African-America legislators . Their fingerprints are all over Stargel’s bill. Got to preserve those bogus signatures they gather you know. And the district can’t challenge them either. And parents can sign more than one petition, too! Gotta make sure there’s a way to keep counting until they get the number they want. But, not to worry. Tony Bennett and the state board have final say in the end.
This is gonna be great.