30 November 2007

Like taking candy from a baby...

If you want to understand just how f'ed up DCPS is, you need to understand the culture of enabling that surrounds the crimes and criminals in the system. A few weeks ago, The Post ran a big feature about adults stealing money from afterschool programs and enrichment activities like Moten's chess club (Sandy Jones, former business manager at the school, was convicted of that crime), and the saddest aspect for me was not the thefts but the lack of concern among supervisors even when the criminals were caught. More on that later...

Yesterday Brenda Belton, thief and former DCPS Charter School supervisor, was sentenced to 35 months in prison, which apparently was two months short of the maximum. It's too bad she couldn't be sentenced to more, but that's the nature of white collar crime...knock over a liquor store and get five to ten years for a few hundred bucks, couple thou if you're lucky; steal $800,000 from children (Belton herself apparently pocketed about half of that, steering the rest of the money to friends, family, and crooked contractors) and get less than three years. Jones, incidentally, who stole far less than Belton, could be sentenced to up to 10 years.

It's clear, though, that some people simply don't get it. The reaction from her "supporters" was telling:

Belton's family and friends, including her sister, daughter and ministers, filled three rows of seating at the sentencing. Many said they hoped Urbina would show Belton leniency, considering her role as an educator.
"It's a waste of resources putting her in jail," said Lafayette Seymour, a minister at Belton's church, the District-based Unity Center of Truth. "She would do more good if she were granted time served and were allowed to return to help the children with her skills and education."
Let's get one thing straight right now: this woman was no educator...she was a thief. She got inside the system and stole from it. When she was given an opportunity to "help the children with her skills" she found it more useful to help herself to the children's funding.

However, the minister's attitude is very similar to Esther Monclova-Johnson, the DCPS supervisor who oversees "talented" afterschool program technology managers Emerson Crawley and William Jones, who saw fit to reimburse themselves from student fund money for their trips to Camelot strip club and Finemondo restaurant (the latter a near daily occurrence with tabs often running over a hundred dollars). Monclova-Johnson apparently feels these two individuals possess unique talents that can't possibly be replaced by someone perhaps a bit more honest:
"These guys are extremely talented, and the work that they give to the program is not worth them being dismissed over a practice that may have been approved . . . by past directors," Monclova-Johnson said. "They weren't doing anything that they felt was wrong at the time, but maybe it was."

Um, if it ever was approved that you could go to strip clubs on DCPS's dime, then I want that job. Not only should those two bums be fired, but Monclova-Johnson herself should be looking for a job. It's disgusting.


Grad School Reject said...

1) These people suck. They deserver more than what they are getting.

2) I am prescribing you some "happy." This is four posts in a row that have been (appropriately) labeled "scum."

Foilwoman said...

Cuff: I don't live in DC and the conditions of the schools is the primary reason. I would rather be urban than suburban (I'd love to completely ditch the FoilCar, but need it for groceries, although not for my daily commute). While the crime rate in DC causes concerns, I just don't have the energy to navigate the public school system there. I'm quite happy with the education my eldest (8) is getting in the 'burbs, and no-one seems to be stealing from her chess club. Or after-school art club.

However, take a walk (or bike ride) through Rock Creek Park, and remind yourself why you live and work downtown. This is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. It's a pity one of the things it doesn't offer is a decent education to it's youth.

cuff said...

GSR: Are you a qualified medical professional capable of writing prescriptions? If so, shoot me an email. I like percoset.

Foilwoman: The basic (and ugly) thing about DC schools is that if you are west of Rock Creek you are almost guaranteed a top-notch school. East of the Park, not so, and east of the river, don't even count on it. We happen to go to a school in the middle of it all. And we're selling Xmas trees this weekend and next to raise money...Yippee!