State Education Board Expected to Approve Investigation of Charter School Group
The state Board of Education will meet at 10 a.m. today to discuss the appointment of a special investigator to examine the operations, finances, and governance of Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) and Jumoke Academy.
Michael Sharpe, the charter school group’s CEO, resigned last week after his criminal past was revealed in news reports. Sharpe also admitted to the Hartford Courant’s editorial board that he had never received a doctorate in education and also had not graduated from New York University, despite claiming those titles for years in published literature and in remarks to the state legislature.
If the special investigation is approved it will be led by attorney Frederick L. Dorsey of the Hartford law firm Kainen, Escalera & McHale, P.C. Previously, the Education Department retained Dorsey to investigate suspected irregularities in the 2010 Connecticut Mastery Test administration at Hopeville School in Waterbury.
“We are deeply concerned about recent revelations regarding FUSE and Jumoke Academy,” Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said in a press release last week. “Like all operators of public schools, these organizations have an obligation to meet high standards of organizational governance.”
The investigation is expected to include interviews of members of the organizations’ staff and governing boards, as well as an analysis of relevant documents. Dorsey will work with the Education Department’s Office of Internal Audit to coordinate the financial audit of Jumoke Academy, which is being conducted by O’Connell, Pace & Company.
Since 1998, Jumoke Academy has been given about $53 million in state grants, according Education Department officials. Sharpe didn’t get involved with the charter school organization until 2003.
In addition to Jumoke Academy in Hartford, FUSE operates Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School and had managed Hartford’s Milner Elementary School until Hartford school officials ended that relationship. FUSE also was hired to run a new, state-approved charter school in New Haven.
FUSE’s website was down Sunday.
In the meantime, two other members of the FUSE management team have resigned, including Andrea Comer, a state Board of Education member appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was the chief development officer for the charter school group.