"It is interesting to me how the Michelle Rhee/Kevin Johnson situation is playing out in the newspapers and blogs. For those of you not keeping up suffice it to say that in a congressional investigation it has been revealed that Michelle Rhee acted as a fixer/damage controller for her fiance when he was accused by three girls of inappropriate touching. I won’t go into the allegations but refer you to the articles via The Washington Teacher’s Blog. Candi Peterson has aggregated all the newsources beautifully and this allows you to read each and come to your own conclusion.
Personally, I think the sex part of this scandal is somewhat of a misdirection. Not that I think the charges are groundless – read not only the Inspector General’s report but also the transcripts, as reported by The Sacramento News and Review , of Johnson’s phone conversation with another girl (not one of the accusers but a girl from 10 years before when Johnson was still a player on the Suns) and it will be hard to avert your eyes or find any excuse for him – but I think that there is much more damning evidence in the IG report than sex.
I cannot recommend enough reading the entire report right down to the interview of Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, the former employee of St. Hope Academy Charter Schools. Your jaw will drop, your eyes will pop out of your head. No matter how you try to play this report it looks stinky. Just a for instance: Michelle Rhee was listed as a board member of St. Hope. Simultaneously she was listed as: the consultant for the New Teacher Project, the consultant for the reconstruction bridge span, the consultant for the reconstruction of the HR department, while on another memo she was listed as the COO. In yet another letter she was listed as the President and Johnson as the CEO. So many hats for one person and absolutely no conflict of interest, is there, in being both a board member and a consultant for the very board of which you are a member. Sarcasm in that last sentence.
The discrepencies are legion in this report. Just read the summary of charges. According to these charges Johnson used Americorps money and Americorps volunteers in complete violation of the government contract and volunteer contract. These volunteers are supposed to be used for the community and as tutors for students in schools. According to the report none of the volunteers did a single hour of tuturing for their time at St. Hope. What they did do was wash KJ’s car, clean his place (Johnson told one employee that the Americorps volunteers were there for “grunt work”), worked as clerks in the St. Hope store, canvassed the neighborhoods for candidates for local political offices, used them to solicit funds for St. Hope – even traveling to NYC on the Americorps money to do so. Johnson also misappropriated Americorps funds to pay SHA staff.
Here was one of the most incredible things I found in this report: the volunteers, who were on a stipend of around $4000 plus dollars, were charged rent for their housing. The housing was owned by (wait for the drumroll please) The St. Hope Development Corporation – they were charged $300-$350 a month. SHA never revealed to federal authorities their relationship to SHD (you would think, though, that they would change the name of their corporation just a tad so that no one would notice – you know, like Enron).
The sex allegations are here, as well. I don’t see how anyone can dismiss them as groundless nor as the accusations of people who hold a political motive. It is obvious throughout this report that there was a culture of abuse. The culture of power that Johnson practiced (one person describes him as micromanaging every thing right down to the position of all the office furniture) is one in which abuse is the predominate factor.
Here is what disturbs me after reading this report: Michelle Rhee tried to bring St. Hope Charter schools into our school system to take over some schools. She tried to do this AFTER this report had been filed. It was only due to the due diligence on the part of the parents of those schools that would have been overtaken (deliberate use of word here) and their objection to SHA coming in because of what they found out in their own investigations.
Due diligence in regards to Ms. Rhee has been missing in DC from the very beginning. From the vetting process on down she has been given a free ride by Adrian Fenty, the Washington Post, many on the city council, and a host of other people who believe she is “doing what has to be done.” Discrepencies in what she says and does have been ignored or explained away at almost every turn. She contradicts herself, denies, changes facts to suit her need and all of this is dismissed as quibbles on the part of those of us who have had worries about her methods and the true nature of her plans. OK, fine, than read this report and explain to me how anyone could think to bring in this corrupt, unethicial organization to run any of our schools? She knew about the charges in that report. Given her status as one of the three main operators of St. Hope – again read the report and Ms. Wong-Hernandez’ interview to see the number of titles Rhee held – there is no way she can claim ignorance to these charges.
That is the real scandal that should be on the front page of every paper. Diligence is now due."
Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, story courtesy of conducting the inner light, definition/commentary courtesy of dictionary.com