|UNO's former Supt. Juan Rangel (left) with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Sun-Times photo)|
Although UNO's charter schools are funded with public dollars, Sun-Times Watchdogs had to take legal action to force UNO to release its financial records. What the Sun-Times learned was that the UNO charter schools superintendent, Juan Rangel, and members of his staff were spending taxpayer money like drunken sailors at pricey restaurants and on out-of-state travel, in addition to a plethora of clout heavy lobbyists and consultants who helped the organization snag funding for its charter schools.
According to the Sun-Times, UNO's charter schools received $87 million of the total $91 million in revenues it received during a recent year from state funding. In the year before, Rangel was forced out of his $275,000 a year job after it was learned UNO spent $98 million in state-provided construction dollars for new schools on firms that were owned by Rangel's top deputy and other school officials. In a two-year period alone, Rangel spent over $60,000 on 31 out-of-state trips to places like Nicaragua, Mexico and China, as well as other cities around the country. He also billed over $60,000 on his American Express platinum card as some of Chicago's most expensive restaurants. The school billed a total of over $80,000 for meals at expensive Chicago restaurants. Rangel even billed concession expenses he incurred while attending Chicago Fire major league soccer games at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
A clout heavy law firm was paid more than $650,000 to lobby officials to obtain funding for UNO. A law firm that contributes heavily to House Speaker Mike Madigan's campaign was paid close to $1 million. An insurance firm that employs the Speaker's son was paid $72,000. A politically-connected PR firm got paid $65,000. UNO spent about $150,000 on a grand opening ceremony for a new charter school that included fireworks, a laser light show and a mariachi band. Another $11,000 was spent busing demonstrators to rallies in support of charter school funding. Gift cards for spa treatments were purchased to give away to employees.
We badly need this kind of reporting in Indianapolis where the media fawns all over the charter schools and the education profiteers behind them who are getting very rich using our tax dollars with virtually zero oversight on how the money is being spent. I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick and tired of the media here spending so much time looking at petty corruption by small-town government officials while they turn a blind eye to the stealing of our public tax dollars by the tens of millions of dollars. The self-dealing going on at these Indianapolis charter schools by these profiteers has got to be exposed.
Is Mary Ann Sullivan's husband's construction business benefiting from charter school construction projects.
Good question. According to Shiel Sexton's website, the firm built the Christel Academy. I'm trying to figure out what, if any, interest Shiel Sexton has in the redevelopment of this Coca-Cola property. If one of those bidding to redevelop that property has an agreement or understanding with Sullivan's husband's firm, then this should be publicly disclosed and Sullivan should recuse herself from participating in this decision by the IPS board.
I would expect a certain degree of intellect from IPS board members rather than the backslapping third grade fluff that is a mainstay at their meetings. The only pertinent fact discerned at the last board meeting was, without explanation, that more Innovation Schools were on the way. Lack of transparency at board meetings would suggest that matters are held close to the vest while the charter/management agenda is set and promoted at the higher Mind Trust level.
Following provisions of SB 1321, the IPS board may reconstruct any school in the district. With 5 new innovative schools created this past year, the flood gates may have opened for this type of privatization end-run.
Most appreciated would be educator posts as it is getting very difficult to honestly monitor this public/private experiment.
What can I do as a citizen to support your efforts toward good reporting? How can I help?
I belive Shiel-Sexton (Brian Sullivan) is a prominent team member with Milhaus Team on two of the six proposals.
This information is available on the IPS website under "Real Estate".
"the Sun-Times learned was that the UNO charter schools superintendent, Juan Rangel, and members of his staff were spending taxpayer money like drunken sailors at pricey restaurants and on out-of-state travel, in addition to a plethora of clout heavy lobbyists and consultants who helped the organization snag funding for its charter schools"
Wonder if he's any relation to Charles Rangel the NYC congressman who I believe got caught up in some sort of spending kerfuffle involving trips to the Caribbean.
One board member, Gayle Cosby, blogs at gaylecosby.WordPress.com about privatization issues.
Thank you Anon 952 for bring attention to Cosby's blog. Gary, I hope you have a chance to look there at
what is being said. There's a speech on there given by a teacher to the school board on 2/25/16 that you
should hear. We should all hear it. Cosby is giving the public her ear, and we should take advantage of
her offer to tell the truth of what is happening in the school system.
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