The Bridgeport school system plans to terminate its partnership with the Family Urban Schools of Excellent as the state Department of Education investigates the charter school management organization.
Acting Bridgeport Supt. Francis Rabinowitz announced the decision Wednesday and said she plans to go before the city Board of Education tomorrow to present her proposal. State Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor is backing the decision, according to a release from the Dept. of Education.
FUSE has been managing Dunbar Elementary School. Hartford Public Schools severed ties with FUSE late last month, cutting off its three-year charter with Jumoke Academy, which had been running Milner Elementary School.
It all began when FUSE and Jumoke CEO Michael Sharpe was terminated in June amid questions about his background and qualifications. Authorities learned that “Dr. Sharpe,” as he had called himself for years, had not completed his doctorate studies.
Pryor and Rabinowitz released the following joint statement on Wednesday:
“Recent revelations regarding FUSE have given rise to significant concerns regarding the organization’s ability to continue working with Dunbar. Teachers, students and parents have demonstrated commendable resolve to turn around Dunbar. They deserve a partner who will be able to provide the attention and support necessary for the work that lies ahead. Therefore, we will actively explore a partnership with Cooperative Educational Services (CES) to help support the school’s effort to implement its turnaround plan.”
Pryor said a couple weeks ago that the Dept. of Education planned to investigate FUSE and Jumoke, and chose Hartford attorney Frederick Dorsey of Kainen, Escalera & McHale, P.C. as the man for the job.
On Wednesday, he went before the state Board of Education to launch a department analysis of charter school oversight.
According to a release from the state Board of Education, the analysis will make recommendations for the improvement of:
- Employee background checks
- Student performance accountability
- The development of charter school expectations when the partnership is first formed
- The charter renewal process
- The process in which schools are expanded, put on probation or shut down
“At the Governor’s direction, the Department is proceeding with a review of the state’s charter school policies and practices, as well as an analysis of best practices nationwide. Our goal is to improve our state’s oversight of charter schools in order to help ensure a strong system that safeguards against problems in the future,” Pryor said in a statement Wednesday. “As the special investigation regarding FUSE and Jumoke proceeds, we will also conduct an examination of improvements to the system as a whole.”
The National Governors Association, National Association of Charter School Authorizers and Connecticut Association of Boards of Education will be contributing to the analysis, along with charter school parents, other education departments and state and national organizations.
Pryor expects to complete the review by Aug. 11.