Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Follow up on the scrubbing of the Academica Charter story

Following up on the feds' investigation of Academica Charter Schools in Florida, and the scrubbing of the original Miami Herald story. Here's Bob Sikes' updated report in Scathing Purple Musings along with Kathleen McGrory's revised story in the Miami Herald.

Sikes writes:
Its hard to count the number of times that McGrory used “conflicts of interest” in her story. No word yet of whether or not the Federal Department of Education will use its SWAT team to raid the Zulueta compound. Or any of the offices belonging to the three Florida republican legislators with close ties to the Zuluetas.
According to McGrory:
A preliminary audit report obtained by the Herald/Times identified potential conflicts of interest between the for-profit company Academica and the Mater Academy charter schools it manages. One example the auditors cited was the transfer of money from Mater Academy to its private support organization, which shares the same board of directors. When asked about the potential conflicts of interest raised in the report, Academica attorney Marcos Daniel Jiménez, in an email to the Herald/Times, touted the charter school network's academic record and commitment to its students.
 Charter school critics said the Inspector General’s findings were a reason to push back on HB 7083, the bill that could weaken the power of school districts over new charter schools.
I suspect it was Jiménez' hollow denial of impropriety that caused the Herald to scrub McGrory's original story, although I still don't understand why they did it. The denial could have easily been reported in a follow-up story.  There must have been a phone call from somebody with clout. I suspect Rep. Frisen. Highly unusual.

Kenneth Wright, victim of D.O.E. raid in 2011. 
In some ways, it reminds me of a previously scrubbed article involving Duncan's I.G. troops invading  the Stockton, CA home of Kenneth Wright at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in 2011. As I recall, Wright was wrongly suspected of reneging on his student loans. The original ABC News story was scrubbed after a phone call from the D.O.E. The next day it was re-posted, minus an interview with victim Wright.

The Washington Post picked up my story (without crediting me) and then waffled after receiving the same call from the D.O.E.'s clean-up man Justin Hamilton. While a few papers and some bloggers ran with Hamilton's sanitized version of the raid, he couldn't make it go away. Chalk one up for the independent media.

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