The former executive director of the Gates Foundation, Tom Vander Ark has decided to simply walk away from a project to open a school in Brooklyn and two in Newark after over three years and over $1.5 million. The story appears in today’s NY Times.
Because the charter process was so far along, hundreds of eighth graders had submitted applications to the schools. The story does not delve into details about whether an when the students and their families were informed and what they will do now.
Vander Ark had hired Joshua Morales, a former NYC Department of Education staffer to assist with the execution and management of the charter schools. Morales seems to have been completely taken aback by the complete dissolution of the plan. He is quoted in the article as saying Vander Ark is “flying 30,000 feet on the air but can’t do it on the ground.”
Morales has had a streak of misfortune with over zealous but dysfunctional charter school visionaries who clash with his by-the-book ethics. In September of 2009, Morales was let go by Eddie Calderon Menendez, the Chief Executive Officer of another troubled Brooklyn CMO, Believe High Schools Network.
Believe High School management has been embroiled in sandal since shortly after the establishment of its flagship school, Williamsburg Charter High School in 2004. It was the target of local coverage for allegedly retaliating against a teacher who was attempting to unionize. Last summer surveillance photos emerged showing Williamsburg students walking to classes at an industrial office space not approved by the NYC DOE for student instruction for art classes and counseling sessions.
Believe is now under investigation for possible mismanagement of public funds and also because the schools it manages violate their charter by engaging in an administrative contract with Believe.