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CT Gov Embroiled in Charter School Scandal, Friend Given No-Bid Contract

Last October, Connecticut Dannel Governor Malloy's Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his corporate education reform industry allies teamed up with Hartford's outgoing superintendent of schools, Christina Kishimoto, to hand Hartford's Clark Elementary School over to Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that was co-founded by Pryor.

When parents, teachers and the Clark School community rose up in anger, even Governor Malloy's close ally, Mayor Pedro Segarra, was forced to back off the backroom deal with Achievement First, Inc.

With Achievement First, Inc. off the table, Pryor and his operatives concocted Plan B.

Plan B was designed to use Pryor's "school turnaround process" to hand control of the Clark Elementary School over to a Washington D.C. charter school chain called Friendship Charter Schools, Inc. In addition to charter schools in Washington, Friendship runs a series of charter schools in Baltimore, Maryland.

Despite promising that it would be the parents, teachers and the Clark School community that they play the lead role in making any decisions about the future of Clark Elementary School, Commissioner Pryor and his school turnaround director, Morgan Barth, with Barth's assistant, Andrew Ferguson, were already working to deliver a no-bid contract to Friendship Charter Schools, Inc.

Multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have failed to persuade the State Department of Education to turnover email communications and documents about the early planning that occurred between Pryor's office and Friendship Charter Schools.

However high-ranking officials within the State Department have confirmed that the Malloy administration had already "cut a deal" with Friendship Charter Schools, Inc weeks ago.

Once again, parents, teachers and the Clark School Community have been forced to come to the defense of their local elementary school.

This time, in an attempt to defuse the community's anger, the Hartford Courant is reporting that Commissioner Pryor will allow the community,  "More Time To Draft 'Turnaround' Plan For Hartford's Clark School."

Although Pryor and the Malloy administration have consistently denied that there was any pre-determination in favor of Friendship Charter Schools, the Courant story reveals the truth with the statement that, "State education officials [now admit that] they recommended Friendship because the group has experience working with a teacher's union and has the organizational means to take on a school with as many challenges as Clark – and in time for the 2014-15 academic year."

In a truly laughable moment, Pryor's Turnaround Director, Morgan Barth was quoted in the same Courant story as saying, "This talk of, 'it's Friendship or bust,' and there's an ultimatum from the state to have Friendship...that's not true."

While Barth's assistant, Andrew Ferguson added an equally absurd quote saying, "The state can't want it more than the local community."

The ongoing attempt by the Malloy administration reveals just how hard it has been working to give the school away to an outside charter management company.  In case after case, Pryor's State Department of Education has made it absolutely clear to local communities that they have little choice in what would happen once Pryor's announced their school was a target for his turnaround program.

The citizens of Connecticut deserve an investigation into the Malloy administrations actions surrounding the effort to first give Clark Elementary School to Achievement First, Inc. and then to give it to Friendship Charter Schools, Inc.

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