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Rochester, NY, Parents: Say No to a Charter Founded by a Con Man

November 29, 2014

Dear Parents of Rochester, New York:

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the New York State Board of Regents have approved a charter school to be opened in your community in September 2015: The Greater Works Charter School (GWCS).

GWCS lead applicant Ted J. Morris, Jr.– the man chiefly promoting the project– has been found multiple times over to be a fraud.

ted j morris jr

He lied about his high school graduation from Rochester’s School Without Walls.

He lied about graduating with a bachelors degree from Western Governors University.

He lied about attending and graduating with a masters and doctorate from Concordia University Chicago.

He lied about graduating with a doctorate from Grand Canyon University.

And watch here to see Morris lying in person on Rochester television.

In the Democrat and Chronicle, Morris described himself as being “too advanced” for the traditional classroom:

“I remember being in school and feeling I was a bit more advanced and (not having enough options),” he said. “I wanted to grow up and open a school that’s predicated on each student’s needs and interests. … I did it sooner than I expected.”

Now the truth is out. Morris views himself as “too advanced” for what other students experience– which apparently includes honestly earning a credential.

Morris is a self-gratulatory fraud who has also described himself as “a natural born leader”– and the proof he offers is laden with lies. (Read his marvelous-yet-fictional accomplishments in this snapshot of a bio that Offsprings Charities has now removed from its website: http://i.imgur.com/f9FkhQ8.jpg )

Effective November 25, 2014, Morris resigned from the GWCS board. However, that does not mean he is out of the picture. In 2012, he told NYSED that he planned to become the CEO of the school.

Whereas board member is not a paid position, CEO is.

To think that Morris will just walk away from GWCS after promoting it for four years is naive.

Enabling the Morris fraud is NY Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who refuses to assume responsibility for signing off on a school whose lead applicant was not properly investigated to begin with.

That’s right, Rochester: Despite Morris’ being a repeatedly-documented liar, NY Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch plans to allow Morris’ school to open, anyway. GWCS has been approved to accept 96 ninth graders for the 2015-16 school year. GWCS will receive $12,340 per student.

GWCS has also tried to raise money via GoFundMe so that it might become part of the charter start-up incubation program. That June 2014 effort did not go so well, with GWCS unable to raise even $2000 of the desired $10,000.

But back to that approximately $1.2 million ($12,340 per student for 96 students) that NYSED and Regents have agreed to hand over to GWCS in 2015-16:

GWCS plans to educate these 96 students via “extensive use of online learning.” Kids in front of a computer. “Education” on the cheap, envisioned by a con man.

NYSED and Tisch are fine with this.

But there can be no school if students will not enroll.

So, Rochester parents, this is your opportunity to put a stop to a school that has a founder who is a fraud– and certainly no positive role model to your children.

Send a message to “aggressive” charter promoter, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch:

Regents approval of a con-artist-proposed charter does not readily translate into 96 filled student seats.

merryl tisch smirk

________________________________________________

Schneider is also author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

previti chronicle pic

 

From → Charters, Ethics

17 Comments
  1. Tommy permalink

    Another tragic irony: just this week, the Rochester City School District announced the closing of one of its traditional high schools, Charlotte High School, citing declining high school enrollment across the school district due to competition from the growing number of charter schools in the city!

  2. Frauds of a feather stick together …

  3. Big frauds have little frauds upon their backs to bite ’em,
    And little frauds have lesser frauds, and so ad infinitum.

  4. Reblogged this on PUMABydesign001's Blog and commented:
    Parents must remain vigilant and twenty steps ahead of these frauds, many of whom I suspect are backed by those seeking to undermine charter schools.

  5. Laura chapman permalink

    Should be
    Headline news in the newspaper. .

  6. dolphin permalink

    Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    “I couldn’t graduate from regular school because I’m just too, too advanced…” Perhaps he had an undiagnosed ADD condition and couldn’t focus long enough to learn anything. Or perhaps he’s just an outright huckster. Whatever the reason, he has not shown a good reason to be in charge of educating children. If I were a parent in that school system, I would be protesting this decision.

  7. Jack Covey permalink

    Just watched the interview with Morris again… I fail to see any of
    the overwhelming charisma that I was expecting from Morris… the only
    thing that stands out he employs some serious teeth-whitening, and that
    he could perhaps he could miss a few meals and slim down a bit. (Hey, a
    lot of us can say the same😉 )

    The principal of the last high school he attended said that Morris
    showed up on campus, sat at the lunch tables, shot the breeze with
    students and teachers—including the principal—but never attended any of
    the classes to which he was assigned.

    http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/11/25/questions-raised-year-old-charter-founder/70096942/

    ———————-

    “Former School Without Walls principal Dan Drmacich and the Rochester
    School District both verified that Morris left the district in 2008.

    ” ‘From what I remember, he was very articulate, a great
    conversationalist, but … he didn’t go to many of his classes,’ Drmacich
    said. ‘We constantly worked with him through his teacher adviser and the
    school counselor, to no avail — to the point he realized and we
    realized he was just coming to school and hanging out versus attending
    classes on a regular basis.’ ”

    ————————————-

    One phone call to this principal from Morris’ charter partner Kozik
    would have—or should have—ended the involvement of Kozik,

    Morris’ successor, with Morris and his proposed school.

    However, Kozik never made that phone call… or probably
    chose not to make that phone call so he could have deniability.

    Kozik is a disgrace to education for being stupid or corrupt enough
    to get himself involved with a crook like Morris. I wouldn’t hire him to
    work at a school—not even as a lunchroom monitor or crossing guard.

    Could someone without a high school diploma—let alone without a
    medical degree—bamboozle people into allowing him to practice as a
    doctor, or head up specialty department at a hospital?

    Could someone without a high school diploma—let alone without a law
    degree—bamboozle people into allowing him to practice law, head up a law
    firm, or serve as a judge?

    The whole time, Morris was crossing his fingers that nobody found him
    out while saying to himself, “What a bunch of suckers!” My guess is
    that, during his teen years, Morris was carefully and constantly looking
    for a scam with a big payoff for himself, and then chanced upon the
    neo-liberals’ and privatizers’ recent push for totally unregulated
    charter schools to replace public schools, and Morris saw exactly the
    phenomenon that he could exploit.

    He probably Googled “charter school scam” or something similar to see
    how he could pull this off… and all the ways to steal money and line
    one’s pockets while running a charter.

    As he perused scandal after scandal in on-line news reports, he would
    notice that in most instances, by the time the charter crooks were
    caught, the money that the charter thieves stole was effectively theirs
    for good—moved to an off-shore bank in the Caymans or Switzerland. As an
    actual paid employee, they could fire Morris once his scam was exposed,
    but they couldn’t recover the money.

    Had this gone ahead with Morris running the show, I suspect you would have seen all the usual charter school perfidy:

    — farming out services to for-profit companies owned by Morris, and Morris pocketing a huge sum;

    — a crooked real-estate deal that results in Morris pocketing a huge sum;

    — hiring of Morris family and friends at huge salaries, but vague
    duties where they do nothing, and never/rarely even show up on campus;

    — in general, just cutting costs to the bone of every aspect of the
    school that they can—more money for Morris to steal… and do so via the
    use of uncredentialed teachers with 50-80 kids crammed in a room full of
    computer terminals… and no oversight as to whether any of the on-line
    “lessons” deliver instruction or the students are doing any real
    work—“Hey man, charter schools are awesome… I get to surf the net all
    day, and play video games!! Woo-hoo!!”

    Morris even says not to expect a significant portion of the students
    at Greater Works Charter School to go to college… so when no one ends up
    going, he can say “that’s how we planned it… so kids could get into
    careers that didn’t require college.”

    — eventually, an announcement that the leaders messed up, and that
    school is millions of dollars in debt, and has to suddenly close with
    the students being dumped back into the pre-existing public schools from
    whence they came, and the crooks like Morris skipping out of town to
    repeat the scam elsewhere. (This happened with the ICEF charter chain
    here in Los Angeles, with billionaires rushing into save the schools
    from total collapse and public scandal. The crook Mike Piscal skipped
    town and, I believe, head up one of Andre Agassi’s schools.)

    What I notice from the the charter industry is that once a massive
    scam has occurred with millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money gone for
    good, they respond by saying, “Well, we want these crooked charter
    schools closed as much as anyone else. They give charters bad name,
    blah-blah-blah… ”

    However, when school boards or legislators want to enact safeguards
    and regulations that would prevent multi-million-dollar frauds from
    happening in the first place, or ask the charter to reveal their books,
    those same charter proponents—California Charter Schools President Jed
    Wallace comes to mind— fight it tooth and nail. They talk about how
    charter leaders need flexibility and freedom to innovate and can’t be
    held back by the status quo… or some other such nonsense.

    If you took away the opportunity for charter heads to line their pockets—

    i.e.

    —say that those in charge of charters had salary caps so that
    salaries would be in line with their equivalent in the public school
    system;

    or

    — impose strict conflict-of-interest regulations where you can’t farm
    out any services to companies you own or are related to… and instant
    death penalty for the charter once this is discovered;

    or

    —demanded that the books be wide open so you could see where every penny goes;

    or

    —demand that all their teachers be credentialed;

    or

    —demand that they could not cream off a subset of the brightest and
    easiest-to-educate kids, but instead had to educate everyone—even the
    Special Ed. kids, English-language-learners, behavior problem kids… that
    are more costly to educate, and, in general, had to have the same
    admissions and expulsion policies as the regular public schools…

    If stuff like that happened, the motivation for the hucksters to open
    a charter would drop like a rock, as would the number of charters
    opening.

  8. Garth permalink

    To me, the comments on today’s blog relate and expose all the scams going on under the guise that Charter Schools as the better way for education in the country. I’ve know about these ruses for a long time and keep wondering how and/or why the powers to be continue to promote Charters?? Just now rec’d my copy of “The Chronicle of Echoes” to better understand the entire Charter School movement—and who’s behind it pushing it.

    Perhaps it’s like the 2002-08 housing boom bust —- everyone was making so much money no wanted to whistle a STOP until the crash came resulting in the 2008 Great Recession— we’re just now slowly but surely recovering from this rt wing debacle.

    I liked the proposed solutions in the last blog post—but is there any hope they’ll be implemented?

  9. Jack Covey permalink

    While Morris’s resignation is welcome news, I’m sorry to say such a positive development won’t last.

    My own educated prediction:

    Dr. Ted Morris, Jr.’s parting from the charter school is only temporary. (Indeed, the latest statement that the Kozik is that Morris has only been replaced as “lead applicant” by Kozik. It says nothing about whether or not Morris is out as CEO.)

    Morris’ resigning is just a strategic ploy to quiet criticism in the short term… then, once a comfortable amount of time has passed, and the spotlight is off, Kozik and the charter honchos will just do what then originally wanted to do in the first place—install Ted back into a high-paying leadership position at the school.

    Mark my words, Dr. Ted will eventually end up employed by the school at some position—with a six-figure salary, a fancy title, and vague duties / job description… and those folks calling the shots won’t have the least bit of shame in doing so.

    When defending Ted’s rejoining the charter, be prepared to hear the charter school leaders vomit up something along the lines of…

    “Someone of Ted’s caliber and dedication and leadership abilities will be a fine addition to our school. We’d be foolish not to avail ourselves of his talents… ”

    or words to that effect.

    AND ONCE A CHARTER SCHOOL’S OPERATIONS ARE UNDERWAY, NOBODY CAN DO A THING TO STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING.

    As anyone who follows education knows, once the charter is granted—especially with a rabidly pro-charter Board of Regents led by Ms. Tisch—and the charter school’s functioning is underway, it’s impossible to close them or exert even minimal oversight, or effect any safeguards—i.e. one barring this mountebank Morris from having anything to do with the school.

  10. Michael Elliot permalink

    The fraud in this case is NYS Regents and the system that has allowed this to occur. This young man has been encouraged or used. He is too young to be culpable. Anything too good to be true, probably is. Shame on those in the position of authority for allowing this to progress to the level of an over confident young man being allowed to advance a weak idea this far.

    • Morris has been perpetrating this fraud for several years. He did not come forward from an attack of conscience; he was caught.

      He is most certainly not too young to be culpable.

      He pulled his fraudulent FB page only after I wrote about it.

      He backpedaled on his high school graduation only when publicly called out.

      Yes, NYSED and Regents are responsible. But so is a 22-year-old.

  11. Sharon in NYS permalink

    The most charitable explanation about Morris is that he has some kind of delusional personality disorder. Still, not the person who should be running a school on the taxpayer’s dime. EVER.

    The GWCS board also shares responsibility. Most will probably claim ignorance, which is no excuse whatsoever.

  12. Sharon in NYS permalink

    Breaking news out of Rochester, the Greater Works Charter School is history!! Thank you, Mercedes et. al.!

    http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/12/01/scrutinized-charter-school-withdraws-application/19745855/

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