Residents in Philadelphia must certainly be looking at charter schools a little differently today after Dorothy June Hairston Brown – a charter school mogul in the city – was charged with defrauding more than $6.5 million in taxes from three of her charter schools. Brown and four of her colleagues were charged on July 24, 2012 and have been indicted with more than 60 counts of wire fraud, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.
In the past, Brown had earned a reputation for improving students’ test scores. However, she was also known for suing parents who questioned her practices and claiming large salaries.
“The indictment in this cases alleges that June Brown and her four co-conspirators used the charter school system to engage in rampant fraud and obstruction,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Merneger. “My office will continue to vigorously investigate and pursue those charter school operators who defraud the taxpayers and deprive our children of funds for their education.”
Brown has been very active in charter schools in Philadelphia. She founded three charter schools – the Laboratory, Ad Prima, and Planet Abacus – as well as helped to create the online Agora Cyber Charter School. Her pay was very high: $150,000 for working a 30-hour work week at Laboratory, and $115,904 for one week at Ad Prima.
“Charter schools are funded with public money that is intended to help educate children in our communities,” said George Venizelos, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Division. “When individuals misappropriate those funds, as this indictment today alleges, they trade our children’s education and our children’s future for their own illegal profit.”
“The bottom line is running a charter school does not give you a license to steal,” Venizelos concluded.
Brown has denied all of the charges that have been filed against her and, according to her attorney, Gregory Miller, she “intends to vigorously defend herself against these unfounded charges.”
Via The Huffington Post and Philly.com