|Gallon, Kemp and Kelly in 2010 court hearing where they are banned from operating charters in N.J.|
Former Plainfield superintendent and current charter school hustler Steve Gallon III
's company, Tri-Star Leadership has been banned
in the state of New Jersey. That in itself is no easy task to accomplish in the state where Gov. Christie has never met a corrupt charter operator he didn't adore
. But not to worry for old Steve. Five months later, he and his company were welcomed with open arms in Florida where anyone with a pulse, no matter how corrupt or incompetent
, can operate a chain of charter schools and receive millions in support from crony-corporatist Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott
In May 2010, Gallon was arrested and charged with hiring unqualified friends Angela Kemp
and Lalelei Kelly
and then lying about their residences so their children could attend schools outside their district. The charges brought against Gallon, Kemp and Kelly were dropped in January 2011 after the three agreed to serve probation and to never work in the New Jersey public school system again.
Just over a year after Gallon was hired to operate schools in South Florida, he rehired Kelly to work as a consultant and then hired Kemp to be the principal at Excel Leadership Academy in Palm Beach County.
Gallon then took up where he left off in N.J.,
making payroll decisions without prior authorization from the charter schools’ governing boards, drawing rebukes from the schools’ financial consultants. He hired a $40,000-a-year consultant who listed her residence as a Georgia home owned by Gallon. He launched a business venture with one of the volunteer board members responsible for overseeing Gallon’s work for the charter schools. The venture was later deemed a conflict of interest by Miami-Dade school district investigators. At least three consultants contracted by the governing boards warned their bosses of inappropriate actions under Gallon, records show. Yet Gallon stayed on as those who complained quit — or were fired.
|Excel Leadership Academy in Palm Beach|
Success Leadership Academy in Ft. Lauderdale and Excel Leadership Academy in West Palm Beach closed in the summer of 2013. Stellar Leadership Academy in Miami faced financial struggles but rebounded and continues to employ Gallon’s company. All three high schools for at-risk students were already reeling when their boards hired Gallon. The schools opened in 2005 under a private management company that selected the original board members and handled all school operations, from real estate and payroll to busing and curriculum. That company, White Hat Management, the most corrupt
of a host of Ohio-based charter management companies, had operated a number of charter schools throughout Florida until they began pulling out of the state in 2011.
According to the Sun-Sentinel:
State statutes governing the conduct of public officials do not apply to the private operators that often gain power at charter schools, even though public money is at stake.
Both traditional public schools and charter schools receive public dollars based on their enrollment, and don’t charge tuition. Administrators at traditional public schools are accountable for every penny spent. But the private companies hired by many charter school governing boards don’t have to open their books.
And so it goes.