What will Corcoran say to the Tuck-less Board of Education meeting? Will BoE apologize to Jefferson and Florida?
How should the Board of Education say sorry to the people of Jefferson County and Florida for the failures of Somerset/Academica and the grifting of the aftermath? Let me count (14) the ways.
On Wednesday, somebody will provide a very awkward “update” to the Florida Board of Education on the DoE/Jefferson scandal. Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, or maybe Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva, are the natural choices to do the honors.
State Inspector General Melinda Miguel — if Gov. Ron DeSantis is not a blatant public liar — should have already put both Corcoran and Oliva under oath about the massive Jefferson County bid-rigging scandal detailed by the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald shared Tallahassee bureau. That bid-rigging scandal already led former Board of Education Member Andy Tuck to resign in disgrace because of his personal role in just one small part of it. This is the first BoE meeting since Tuck abruptly quit rather than submit to an interview with DoE investigators.
Thus, we’re likely to get the spectacle of Corcoran, who oversaw the entire corrupt bid process, including the Ralph Arza - MGT - Trey Traviesa part of it, updating the Board of Education on the corruption of one of its own members while openly continuing the official, all-in-the-open government coverup of the much larger, more comprehensive scandal.
That should be fun and/or stomach-turning to watch.
Sorry, not sorry
I predict awkward defiance and buffoonery and a lot of self-congratulation at Wednesday’s meeting.
Corcoran and the unelected lackeys who make up your state school board will try to intimidate and bully Jefferson Superintendent Eydie Tricquet and whoever goes with her into praising them. They will seek to pressure Tricquet into welcoming whatever scraps they offer to cover their own exposure — moral and otherwise — in the Jefferson mess.
Nobody on the Board of Education will have the courage to ask Corcoran a single critical question. But they will bombard Tricquet, who is trying to clean up the Corcorcan/Somerset/Academica disaster, with a million questions and comments designed to discomfort her and put her on moral defense.
This is a high stakes scandal; and a cornered animal like Corcoran will attack to protect himself.
Because this meeting will be about nothing more than the self protection of power, nobody — not Corcoran or Oliva or any BoE member — will have the courage or basic decency to apologize to the people of Jefferson County or Florida.
These are all truly bad, self-interested people who don’t care about children, communities, or public good as anything more than dollars to scam. And Corcoran already sent Jefferson the most obnoxious, confrontational letter of non-support imaginable.
Expect the BoE to clap.
What BoE should apologize for
But, if the BoE was not a useless scam of an unelected state school board, what might Chair Tom Grady say to the people of Jefferson and Florida in its first since one of the BoE members resigned in disgrace over Jefferson County?
What might Grady apologize for? Here’s a partial list.
We’re sorry the Somerset/Academica charter school operator got at least $20M more in resources than your elected board will ever get — and still failed and grifted your kids and community so badly.
We’re sorry Sen. Manny Diaz blames your own kids and people for his company’s failure and incompetence.
We’re sorry Corcoran will never let you audit how Somerset/Academica spent the money it was given to help you.
We’re sorry Corcoran refuses to help you rebuild the school system his model “School of Hope” destroyed.
We’re sorry Corcoran’s friend, convicted criminal witness tamperer and famous racist Ralph Arza, seems to have the authority to affect your future and keep four family members on the Somerset Jefferson payroll.
We’re sorry that we don’t know what Arza said or did at a shady Nov. 1 meeting he had no business attending.
We’re sorry IG Melinda Miguel won’t put Arza and Corcoran and Oliva under oath so we know what went down at that meeting — and how Trey Traviesa’s MGT came to be put on a Request for Quote template before the RFQ was issued.
We’re sorry Corcoran never disclosed that Traviesa was an old business partner until Billy Townsend reported it.
We’re sorry all of this was kept from the elected Jefferson County School Board by multiple government officials, including Suzanne Pridgeon, DoE’s deputy commissioner of Finance and Operations. She hid the scandal and misled the elected Jefferson board right to their faces at an official meeting on Dec. 13.
We’re sorry DoE insists on spending your federal ESSER 3 money on some useless consultant you won’t even get to choose.
We’re sorry Taryn Fenske seems to be lying on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ behalf about an IG Miguel’s “all of the above” and “holistic” investigation.
We’re sorry our former BoE colleague Andy Tuck tried to grift you by joining former Department of Education Vice Chancellor Melissa Ramsey in submitting a corrupt bid to help the Jefferson County School District “transition” from Somerset/Academica Charter back elected local school board control.
We’re sorry that Melissa Ramsey appears to have actually had the best intentions of anybody involved in this entire mess. [Dropping character, back to Billy: — Ramsey’s bid severely undercut the grifty, $2M-plus deal being worked out for MGT in advance of a fake RFQ. That doesn’t absolve her use of Caroline Wood to craft the proposal; but I’ll wager she’s the only person at the state who actually cared — at all — about what happened to the kids and people of Jefferson County. That’s what I’ve come to believe after deep diving on this scandal. And without Ramsey’s bid, MGT would already be counting Jefferson’s money with Corcoran’s blessing. And nobody would be the wiser.]
And we’re sorry, when you work in a fake state government in which corruption and bad faith are the norm, good intentions are often lethal.