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Charter founder June Brown charged with fraud

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 23, 2012 01:44 PM

June Brown, a longtime School District administrator who jumped on the charter bandwagon early by founding three small charters and then co-founding a cyber school, has been charged in a massive fraud case by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The federal investigation was partly the result of dogged reporting over several years by the Inquirer's Martha Woodall on charter mismanagement and profiteering.

Brown, hailed at one time for stellar test scores, especially at Laboratory Charter, drew simultaneous salaries as the nominal head of two schools at a time. The indictment charges her with defrauding the three charter schools of $6.5 million and using her knowledge of Philadelphia's school system to illegally profit.

The state had at one time moved to close Agora, but stopped in the face of suits and countersuits. Brown was forced out, but received a $3 milion settlement from the state and from K12, the for-profit company that operated the school. 

The multiple-count, 66-page indictment comes as Philadelphia education, philanthropic and civic leaders move to increase the number of students who attend charter schools.

Two of the three charter schools that Brown founded, Planet Abacus and Laboratory Charter, are up for five-year renewals before the School Reform Commission. The vote on the renewals has been repeatedly delayed.

Update: The School District issued a statement saying that it is "very concerned" about the allegations and that "pending renewal decisions on any charter school alleged by the indictment to be associated with Ms. Brown will be placed on hold." It also said it would conduct its own internal investigation with help from outside counsel from the law firm of Pepper, Hamilton.

 

 

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Comments (92)

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 2:47 pm

Likely, the SRC will hire her to take over Darden's position.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 2:19 pm

Fraud 101--Is anyone surprised??? Lots of illegal money to be made on the backs of the kids and here come the vultures and roaches. Charters are GREAT, aren't they??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 2:58 pm

The BIGGEST joke of all this, is that the high scores were a joke and everybody has known it for 3 years now. All those charter scores are silly and useless.

Submitted by Anon (not verified) on July 24, 2012 2:44 pm

Really? It seemed to me like Lab got those scores through the sheer misery of its students. Are you saying those kids suffered through endless homework and drill and kill and no recess and they still had to juke the stats?

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 24, 2012 4:42 pm

I took my children to Lab Charter to apply in 2004. Laboratory Charter had a screening process. You had to go to a night meeting, with your children, and listen to Ms. Brown for about 3 hours. Then, you had to complete the application. (The children were in another room watching movies.) All of this occurred at a location in Lower Merion - I assume so she didn't have to pay Philly wage taxes. Then, Ms. Brown collected applications in two boxes. She asked the parents questions, met the child(ren), and deposited the application in one of the two boxes. These applications became the basis for the lottery.

After this process, the child(ren) had to attend the school for a day. Parents were given a summer "packet" (over 150 pages) that was packed with drill worksheets. The child could not attend in September if the "packet" was not complete.

My child(ren) did not attend but a friend sent her children. In the winter before the PSSA, she was told she had to leave the school for tardiness. Lab Charter provides NO bus transportation and required parents to find a way to get their children to the school. My friend was a late a few times. She was suspicious that the reason wasn't tardiness but test scores. Apparently they were not doing "proficient" on the predictive tests.

Lab Charter was set up for pump out test scores. Other schools have follow their example. Unfortunately, the Ackerman scripted curriculum meshed with the Lab Charter approach.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 4:25 pm

OK--I am confused. Are you for or against this charter fraud?

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 24, 2012 5:32 pm

Obviously opposed. Lab Charter set up a school which excluded students to ensure high test scores. This is also done at SDP magnet schools. Mastery, Central, Academy at Palumbo, etc. don't even look at students who are other than "advanced" on the PSSA.

Cheating on standardized tests permeates some SDP schools and some charter schools. It isn't the majority but schools that don't "select" their students have a much more difficult job than schools which "select" students. Central and Masterman will never be threatened with closure for ONE reason - they select their students and can get rid of students. Some charters do the same - Mastery's "contract" is the same as "selecting" students. The schools that the SDP is threatening with closure because of "low performing seats" are neighborhood schools that take anyone.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 5:38 pm

That's why their called PUBLIC schools and your feelings weren't so obvious to me. Thanks.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:49 pm

I wouldn't have a problem with a few magnet charters if that's what they billed themselves as. I don't have a problem with a few public magnets.

The problem is that charters are all magnets, pretend they are neighborhood public schools, and then have the audacity to claim that they are doing it better than real neighborhood schools.

They are comparing apples to garlic, but the entirety of the argument in favor of giving people like this shyster millions of dollars is that they are comparing apples to apples.

It's all a lie, and it's about time we opened our eyes and stopped letting fancy law firms and MBAs from Chicago tell us how to run schools.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:31 pm

It's FAR beyond time to kick these crooks to the curb. Destroying the inner cities and getting paid for it. Disgraceful and Nutter is part of it--a BIG part.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 3:12 pm

Absolutely! Look at Chester Upland for example. Are the students in charters outperforming students who remain in the 7 Chester Upland Schools?

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on July 25, 2012 4:03 pm

Fraud 101 is ALL it is and unless the scores are manipulated, charters consistently fall below traditional standards and WE are the ones who stink. Huh?????

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on July 25, 2012 6:31 pm

NO--they have stopped pretending. They have become bold enough to throw their corruption right in our face. The real question is what are we going to do to stop this charade??

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:13 pm

That's weird, because the School District of Philadelphia is REQUIRED to pay for charter students to go to their schools. Even if they cut 100% of transportation for our students, still gotta pay those charter "schools."

So, was Ms. Brown pocketing the payments for transportation? Seems likely, in light of the allegations.

I would be horrified by your description of the enrollment process if I didn't already know that every single charter does this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:12 pm

Charters are GREAT !! Aren't they??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 4:38 pm

Anon--What is your position on this. I am confused. What I am saying is that ALL CHARTER scores need to be tossed because they are intramurally based with NO accountability and it's all supported by the crooked pols.

Submitted by Anon (not verified) on July 24, 2012 5:53 pm

OK, I thought you were accusing them of cheating in the "adults erasing students' wrong answers and replacing them with the right answers" sense.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 6:49 pm

NO----I am fully accusing them of being slum lord types who rip off the poorest of the poor for pure financial profit. "Scum bags" come to mind.

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 24, 2012 6:32 pm

Lab Charter was not "tagged" by the PA Dept. of Ed. for excessive erasures. We are still waiting for other schools who were tagged (e.g. Wagner - yes, Nixon; Roosevelt, Strawberry Mansion, Imhotep, ETC.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 5:48 pm

Why are Dr. Brown's charter schools a BIG JOKE ???? I guess everybody knows that innercity urban children in Philly can't possibly acheive proficient scores on these high stake test.... Dr. Brown has proven the naysayers wrong again !!!!

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 18, 2012 6:55 pm

Another TROLL !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 7:45 pm

I am a PARENT and GRANDPARENT of students @ Dr. Brown's schools.
I have earned the RIGHT to be a TROLL if I so desire. I am a vested stakeholder in this vicious political takeover attempt of Dr. Brown's schools !!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 8:53 pm

Brown robbed your children and grandchildren of at least $6.5 million. She is a thief. She also violated many charter laws by hand picking which students should accepted into her test prep academies.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 2:58 pm

The BIGGEST joke of all this, is that the high scores were a joke and everybody has known it for 3 years now. All those charter scores are silly and useless.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2012 3:01 pm

The Charter students work hard. I know this because I currently go there. We don't just get the easy way it is a hard school but it pays off. We do not just get the answers we work them out and ask for help.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on July 24, 2012 2:30 pm

Diane Ravitch asks a good question about this mess on her blog: WHY are we allowing more unregulated charters?

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/24/astonishing-news-from-philadelphia/

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 3:20 pm

Shut them down!!! This is just someone who got caught...I hope more get caught and soon!

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 24, 2012 7:25 pm

hey, not to worry. the SRC is on the ball here. any charter operator caught doing the "perp walk" on the 6:00 news is going to get a hard second look from them before being reapproved.

i guess a federal investigation isn't good enough. why let an opportunity pass to hire their outside counsel buddies to do their own investigating. wonder how many $5 "contributions" from 32bj cleaning staff that'll cost.

you couldn't make this stuff up if they paid you.

The School District issued a statement saying that it is "very concerned" about the allegations and that "pending renewal decisions on any charter school alleged by the indictment to be associated with Ms. Brown will be placed on hold." It also said it would conduct its own internal investigation with help from outside counsel from the law firm of Pepper, Hamilton.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 7:50 pm

Wonder how much they are paying Pepper, Hamilton for this
'investigation"? I wonder who knows who in this law firm and is buying influence with them? It just goes on and on and on.......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 5:11 pm

DR. Brown to you.......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 3:58 pm

Glad they got this clown. How can you work two full times jobs and a third part time. Give up sleeping, eating, dressing. Hire somebody else to do that stuff for you I guess. Hey Johnny Public, are you finally getting the idea about who is running the public schools?

Submitted by Timothy Boyle on July 24, 2012 7:47 pm

Dale,

Is there any sense this is the first of many charges stemming from the larger (18-19?) school investigation that began in the fall out of Philadelphia Academy Charter School case?

Submitted by Anon (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:08 pm

Timothy, the Inquirer reporting makes it seem like they began looking into Brown while investigating PACS four years ago.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on July 24, 2012 8:05 pm

I met June Brown five or six years ago at a Saturday training. She came in a bit late, beautifully and expensively dressed. At the break, she introduced herself, and although her name sounded familiar, I couldn't place her. She asked me if I was being paid to attend the training, and when I responded that I was, she told me that she did not approve of paying teachers for professional development. She was polite about it, but quite firm, and I once again noticed how very well-dressed she was. When I went home, I googled her...and lo and behold, there it was...the story of her multiple principalships and her half-million dollar salary. The article quoted her as saying that "no one" in Philadelphia did more for children than she did.

I keep June Brown in mind as I read about charters, not because I oppose giving parents school choice, but because of the greed and corruption that can so easily accompany any financially free-wheeling (and tax-payer fed) institution.

It's not easy to keep public institutions honest, and impossible to follow the trail of money through many--not all, but many--charter schools without a federal subpoena in hand.

Yesterday it was David Shulick. Today it's June Brown. They almost make me think more kindly of Arlene.

It should go without saying that it is deeply unethical to get rich performing public service.

When will Corbett and his friends embrace this thought?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:39 pm

Why on earth does this make you think kindly of Arlene? She enabled much of this!

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 11:57 am

She said, "almost."

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on July 25, 2012 6:11 pm

Joan--NAY-----Corbett et al are small potatoes doing the bidding of the huge money people like the Koch Bros and ALEC. The elections of 2010 were devastating for democracy in the USA and hopefully, we have learned from it. MANY folks sat home and let Corbett and his Tea Party Buddies get into office. Now, we are paying the price.

Submitted by Anonymous and curious (not verified) on July 28, 2012 5:07 pm

Are you employed by one of her schools? Do you foresee the schools remaining open for the coming year? That is so unclear...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 8:47 pm

I wonder what the SDOP auditors found on their audits for the renewals.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 24, 2012 9:02 pm

move on folks. nothing to see here. let's go, keep moving. nothing happening here.
psssst - get this mess cleaned up and out of here on the double.
j

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 24, 2012 9:59 pm

Does anyone know which Philadelphia public schools she was the principal of? Has anyone worked for her?

Submitted by J.J. McHabe (not verified) on July 25, 2012 7:42 am

At one point Brown was the Principal at MYA (Middle Years Alt). My wife's Aunt was a student there at the time.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 6:45 am

Not a huge charter school fan but I think something else is going on. Have any other charter school operators gone to jail for fraud in Pennsylvania other than in Philadelphia? It seems that all of the people indicted and convicted had strong political ties and ties to the district. How can all of this go on for years and nobody at the school district knows? The fat cats in all industries get rich off hard working people. Looks like the same thing here.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on July 25, 2012 7:56 am

Many charter operators have ties to Philadelphia politicians, influential clergy or previous careers in the School District. (e.g. Foundation is full of former SDP administrators) Dwight Evans hides the crimes of his friends via charters. Hardy Williams is the voucher / charter king. Kenyatta Johnson's wife, Dawn Chavous is also the executive director of Students First PA, the voucher organization bankrolling political candidates (http://www.studentsfirstpa.com/). This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on July 25, 2012 6:02 pm

So WHAT are WE going to do about it Jerry?? Any thoughts?? Should you call Randi Weingarten and ask her what to do?? Are you complicit in all this???

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 6:02 pm

Don't bother calling Randi, she's complicit in all of this!

http://gothamschools.org/2009/03/11/eli-broad-describes-close-ties-to-kl...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 10:36 am

This is crazy! All of these schools should cease operations immediately! The SRC will have no business closing 40 SDP schools if this BS has been going on under their noses... Seems like a new charter fraud every other week. Embarrassing!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 20, 2012 5:25 pm

No way!! These schools can and will stay open, without Dr. Brown hopefully. There is a board at these schools and they will pick someone else who will do the right things for the kids! This school is important and the kids who go there are as well. The parents should and will make sure they are doing the right things! We are on to them now and will not stand for anything else but complete transparency!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 1:31 pm

what will happen with the kids? will they shut all schools (lab, ad prima planet abacus) down and all these kids will have no place to be at for 2012 2013 school year????

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 3:14 pm

Good question... Maybe all those kids could be placed in the district schools with so called "excess capacity" and the funding could follow them. There are a lot of kids being displaced and shuffled around In all of this restructuring business. It's par for the course these days.

Submitted by Expects more (not verified) on July 26, 2012 7:46 am

This is a travesty. I know a few students at Lab and I doubt the high scores are a joke. These students could challenge most of us and win. That said, they are worked HARD! What is going to happen to the students? Throw them in substandard public schools? Parents are being told Lab will be operational this school year but I don't know if that can be believed. All of these children are victims of Dr. Brown. Her greed has potentially displaced many high achievers.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012 9:36 am

Thanks for proving the point about charter schools.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 5:32 pm

Did it ever occur to you that the LAB students acheive high scores BECAUSE of Dr.June Brown, not in SPITE of her !!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 7:58 pm

Of course it occurred to me. That's why the allegations are a travesty! The formula works. It's the apparent compromising of her integrity (if the allegations are to be believed) that is going to put the high scores and potentially the future of these bright students in jeopardy.
PAY ATTENTION!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 7:02 pm

Do you mean Brown's "test prep formula" works? Scoring high on a standardized tests isn't synonymous with learning. I fear for the students because they know how to do one thing - take the PSSA.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 10:29 pm

Now THAT is blatant incorrect information. I am employed by a prominent high school on the Main Line and have seen many many many of these students enter through academic scholarship. Test Prep formula?? You are mistaken. I would take a thousand of them before some of the whiney, over privileged, entitled brats that have started here. Deductive reasoning, problem solving, mental fortitude, and absorbing knowledge is what I see and I have worked in academia for years. Of course that is going to translate into standardized tests as well as is often the case with intelligent children. Great kids. Take out the trash, regulate, tweak the formula and keep building these confident achievers.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 10:35 pm

Are you using "trash" to refer to students who don't enter your "prominent high school on the Main Line?" Sure, you get a few students who qualify for your "prominent" school but what about those who don't qualify? A school has to be evaluated on how it improves learning for ALL students - not your select few. Public, neighborhood schools in Philly welcome ALL students - what you call "trash."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 9:52 am

I think she means the entitled whiners are the trash and she would take a thousand lab charter enrollees before the brats. Sounds like she finds the lab students true learners and not merely test takers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2012 10:40 am

Actually to answer your question and probably save you from your needless diatribe, the "trash" is obviously June Brown and her cohorts. I was not and would not refer to any student as trash. I believe it is incumbent on us all to protect them from June and people with your limited view. I am insulted by and embarrased for both of you! Even my whiners are not trash. Brats yes! You seem to have issue with rewarding scholarship and merit and want to trivialize just how academically gifted these students are. Sorry, I've seen too many succeed and funding permitting, will see more.
Again, I DO think the TRASH should be taken out of administration at Lab and reorganize so that MORE student regardless of aptitude acheive success!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012 10:33 am

No, if the school isn't renewed it will still open the the upcoming year. This is a mess.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012 10:52 am

But how many "high-performing" seats will the SDP losing if they close after that? What are the enrollment numbers?

Submitted by Anonymous and curious (not verified) on July 28, 2012 5:05 pm

do you mean that because the schools notified the parents that they will remain open for the coming year?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 2:04 pm

Let's not forget her thirty years as a school district teacher,principal and union member. I wonder where she received her corruptionn training?

Submitted by Joan Taylor on July 25, 2012 4:51 pm

I don't think we can blame the SDP for her corruption; she may have dipped into the bake sale funds, but there was never much beyond spare change to walk out the door with at any time. While it's true that a few principals have been nailed for stealing, their totals are petty cash compared to Brown's haul. I think she was basically a corrupt person waiting for an opportunity. Opportunity came along because we don't regulate charters. It was like stealing candy from a baby.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 25, 2012 6:36 pm

You said it, Joan!

Submitted by Expects more (not verified) on July 26, 2012 7:38 am

Well said!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012 9:00 am

Reading the indictment the schools will have a very difficult time operating without Brown as the leadership team largely largely consisted of unqualified people she groomed to accept a fat salary while allowing her to run everything and colluding with her in the fraud mostly related to her company receiving significant management/consulting contracts. It doesn't seem that there is a functioning board in place that would be able to select and hire appropriate leadership. Also concerning is that the schools may actually be understaffed as it is alleged she had staff receiving paychecks from one school work at the others so there'd be more money left for her and/or to shift money around to cover some of the funds she took.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012 11:13 am

As a former teacher at these schools, I can assure you that the the test scores are legit, and the kids do very well on them. That is because they have been trained to take to the test. The teachers are paid far less than any district payscale, overworked, and I knew it was only a matter of time until this would happen. We were lacking in supplies/facilities, but some of those charged always seemed to have the most expensive clothes/cars etc, and rarely worked. Truly a shame. I can't tell you how many times i saw teachers having breakdowns/crying because of the overstressed work environment with very little support. I can't even get into the other friends of Brown that were put in principal positions making boat loads of money. Bullies.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 26, 2012 5:46 pm

I can verify this as another former teacher at Lab. However, I will also say it's only the TIP of the iceberg. Working at these schools may have been the most degrading experience I have ever had in my life. I could write a book.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on July 26, 2012 10:47 pm

Please do. Or at least tell us more on the Notebook. Many of us would love to get the inside story.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 27, 2012 2:07 am

I agree! The thing is... as a parent, it's very important to me that my children's teachers are not overworked and underpaid. The SRC needs to look closely at this, and charter teacher attrition rates school by school. It should be public information along with test scores. Where is the equity in the fact that the schools with stable, experienced teaching staff are mainly the traditional district schools, many in more affluent neighborhoods?

A teacher's emotional well being translates to the children they teach - and that's half the battle (dare I say more important than test scores??). We shouldn't be working to create a system of burnout factories, and from the charter teachers I've spoken to, that's exactly what many of them are.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 27, 2012 6:50 am

... and speaking of the social emotional well being of children, here is a thread on Philadelphia Speaks that is very telling.... http://www.philadelphiaspeaks.com/forum/parenting-education/8978-laborat... .... No recess, no art, no music, children developing ulcers from the anxiety of test prep all day, every day. Plus, the warning that if your child has special needs, "this is not the school for you" because they "do not individualize".

Hey SRC, can you bring yourself not to renew this charter, despite the test scores - in addition to stealing taxpayer education funds in a budget crisis, they seem to be abusing children and ignoring their obligation as a public school to educate "ALL OF THEM!"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2012 10:12 pm

Yes, this is how most charters raise test scores: hyperfocusing on the test, burning out teachers (often young). Some charters might be good, but many of them are burn out factories. Not a good place for a career or for a student who is behind in academics and has a learning difference.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2012 1:37 pm

I 100% agree, my son has an IEP, and when i went to this school's open house spring of this year i had a strong intuition that because of his special need that he would not be chosen to go to this school. Ms Brown was very cold, and something about her demeanor rubbed me the wrong way. Now that i am reading through these post it makes perfect sense that the school excelled in test scores because the children were hand chosen, not lottery drawn. Something else that was unsettling to me was the fact that she also ran the private school Mainline Academy which caters to special needs children, however she did not have curriculum for special needs children in lab/adprima....she is a greedy scum bag, and i hope she gets what she deserves if not on earth, then in heaven!!!...#from a disgusted parent, and a person with ethics!!!!!!!!!, a lawsuit needs to be filed against her for discrimination j/s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 7:48 pm

Honestly, a parent of a high performing student at Lab would not want and IEP student bringing down the class. There are other resourses out there for you. Lab is for high achievers. It's not for your situation.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 7:00 pm

Charters aren't magnet schools - they are NOT suppose to have admission requirements. Many do - that is the travesty!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 18, 2012 8:43 pm

How "F******" dare you! You arrogant. . .

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 30, 2012 10:09 pm

I dared.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on August 18, 2012 9:08 pm

Wow! I hope this comment is a satire on some charter school attitudes. If it is not, you are a valuing the wrong things. Charter schools are supposed to take all students without admissions requirements. The are legally bound to take students with IEPs, just like regular public schools. Of course, we know many of them play certain games with the "lotteries". All students (IEP or not) deserve a good education.

Submitted by Anonymous-Parent (not verified) on August 1, 2012 11:23 am

I am a parent of a student at the Brown St. location. My son is entering the 2nd grade this year and has been there since Kindergarten. For the first year, I cried at least two- three days a week due to my son coming home crying, stating how miserable he was at school. The teacher would constantly call me, text and e-mail me throughout the day to notify me that my son was "being silly", "not standing in line straight", "flipped his card to yellow", which is a warning for some other immature kid-like action. Again, my son was 5 at the time. My son would complain that he was bored and restless from sitting at his desk doing repetition work all day. My son said that they did not go out for break and that during lunch they were to sit silently for the first 15minutes of lunch and then, the last 15 minutes they were allowed to talk but in a whisper to the person sitting beside them only. He also said that gym was only once every two weeks which it actually is every 15days per class because they have the same gym teacher at EVERY site. This is also the case with the Music teacher and Language teachers. My son had come from Lansdowne YMCA where is was always pushed to a higher grade- class because he was more "advanced". My son was/is always above average in all of his class at the Lab and ranks # 2 in all of his grade between all 5sites. I am a parent who EVERY teacher and staff knows because I am a hands on parent and because my son is always in "trouble". I have had over eight meetings with the staff, including once with Ms. Brown. She was very polite and seemed to be compassionate. She stressed that my son was one of her best students but that he lacked the kind of discipline that they wanted their students to have. When I suggested that my son would not be returning because I felt that Lab just was not a good fit for MY son, she seemed to come up with all these great ideas to help him adjust better. She insisted that he was such a valuable asset to the Lab and how that by leaving him in the Lab he would only gain and that to move him he wouldn't reach his full potential-school wise in any other charter or public school. From there on out, I continued to have some problems with my son but the teachers would call in a different tone and take a better approach with me.

I have always been suspicious of Lab because of all the SAME negative reviews and then my own personal experience with them. The thing that confirmed it all was the first year when I first begin having the problems (two -weeks into school) I took my son to the doctors (suggested by the school) and spoke with his pediatrician, Carl Pullen-who when I told him why I was there, looked at me and said, let me guess...he attends the Lab school? He went on to explain to me that he see's about 25students who attend the various Lab sites and that they have all at one time or another come to him because either the school suggested it OR because their child has been experiencing anxiety, stomach aches, head aches ect. He did not speak highly of the school and to say the least said that the benefits did not compare to the torment that the children had to endure. He evaluated my son and gave me a note to give the the school stating that my son did not have any kinds of mental or behavior problems, as they had initially suggested. He ruled at ADHD or any other Hyperactivity disorders. He told me to give my son 4months and to come back in to be evaluated for his stress and see if he was experiencing anxiety. He coached me on how to deal with my son at home and how NOT to add to the pressure from school.

Things go better but I was still not impressed with their approach. Yes, my son survived but my son started off with 23 kids in his Kindergarten class but by the end of the year only 16 kids remained. Last year my son was only 1 of 4 boys in his class of 14. All of this his pediatrician had told me would happen. He said that his practice had been monitoring the Lab students in which they saw in the office. All of the children had the same "issues".

I have been looking into private school for my son since day one. This will likely be his last year. The idea of the school is great but they lack in a lot of areas which are critical to a child developing properly-socially. There needs to be a healthy balance of academics and extracurricular activities which should promote social skills, arts, sports, self awareness and esteem, ect, put in place in order for this school to thrive. As well as new leadership. It is SAD that our children have to suffer and be subjected to this just to get a mediocre education without paying a arm and a leg for it in private schools.

Any other parents here? If Lab closes, where do you plan to send your child?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 15, 2012 11:46 am

I am also a parent of one of theses schools and I can tell you that what these teachers and parents say are true! Now our fight is how do we get her out? Will she continue to be a part of these schools while she is being investigated? In my view she should not be allowed to at all! It is in her contract that the schools have to pay her legal fees so she takes more money from the kids!! We need help to get her out!! Parents are having a meeting on Thursday August 16th at St' Leos' Church on Keystone street in Philadelphia for all her schools. This is a meeting to organize and gather support because we don't want our schools to be closed we just want her out! This has happened to other schools and they survived and we can too! If you would like more info check out our facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Planet-Abacus-Charter-School-Parent-Forum/...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2012 7:11 am

Since 2008 I've said it repeatedly, even to the SRC and Charter School Task Force ... CHARTERS NEED OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY ... it is insane that these operations are ONLY accountable to themselves and their boards which they pick and the school district basically has NO say or power to enforce any regulation other than a 5 year review!!!!! It's nepotism in the making... case in point. The curriculum and academic foundations are good, but there needs to be more fairness and equality ensured by a higher authority so that matters such as this do not take place ... and NOT just financially, but for students of all backgrounds and capabilities. Many of the statements on this site are on-point, however, it's not a lost cause. I do believe this system and school can be fixed, with the "RIGHT", unbiased and independent people in place. In all seriousness, the entire administration should be replaced by new people not jaded by what's gone on to date.

Submitted by M (not verified) on August 19, 2012 4:55 am

For those of you that are obviously not happy with the Lab Charter school, ad prima, and Planet Abacus, why don't you take your children out? I pray they do not close my children's school. I have 4 total in this Charter school and its wonderfull! They do have gym, art, and music. They do complain about no recess but that would be the only.change I would make. I hope that if the founders are proven guilty that they sever ties with these schools and they find someone who is qualified to keep them going.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 23, 2012 9:15 pm

Hello, i am a parent who is beginning to research education options in Philly. I thought charter schools were a good way to go because I have never really heard anything positive about the public schools here in the city. At this point i am wondering what our options have become?? Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice is welcome because these postings are very concerning. Thanks so much for the help!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2012 5:15 pm

Charter schools are a very good choice for education! My advice is check the administration of the school. Make sure parent involvement is welcomed! Tour the school and talk to the teachers and other parents. You should feel comfortable in the school and they should answer your questions. The big things are administration and the boards( trustees and parents) of the school. You will know as a parent if it's a good fit. I wish I would have done this before my kids started a charter school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2012 7:48 pm

Alot of parents thought that June's schools were "a good fit" too, but found out otherwise. When they asked to see the financial records they were sued by her. Talk to parents who have kids there and check all the net boards that deal with Philly education. Alot of charter schools are not good choices.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 25, 2012 8:21 am

I am one of the parents that has their kids there. My kids got a better education at Planet Abacus then they would have at my local public school. We just hope that whomever comes in to take over our school has the same academic standards we are accustomed to. It's just a shame that the kids have to suffer because of Brown's greed!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 25, 2012 11:04 am

Unfortunately, a major part of the standards you've become accustomed to was the school keeping out any Special Education, ELL or struggling students. That's a big part of the tragedy of the situation - denial of access to free appropriate public education for profit.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 25, 2012 2:43 pm

Yes, that is a true problem in her schools. Our school is not even handicap accessible. I don't know how she got away with it for so many years. I hope whomever takes over fixes those problems. Every child deserves a good education! I just hope she doesn't get the chance to open a new school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 8, 2012 1:58 pm

It is unfortunate the children of these schools will suffer because of greed. However, these schools have great teachers who care and are committed. I am a parent of two children who have attend The Lab School. My older child in now in her second year of college and credits The Lab on their test-taking skills for her high scores on the SAT's. My youngest is in his last year and he started at kindergarten. And, although he may not like homework or school work he does exceptionally well. The discipline he has been taught to remain focused toward his studies is well above most schools around.
The Lab School IS NOT for evey child and as a parent it is your responsibility to know your child's achievement levels. The children do have music, gym, art and languages along with the other basic curriculum. Recess, going outside for a few minutes is not offered. However, the students do have free time to regroup after lunch. The problem in America we are not committed enough to education. As a parent, I chose The Lab because of the education it provides. My son gets recess on the weekends by attending the YMCA and community basketball.
So, yes please reorganize the schools to ensure corruption doesn't happen again. Also, The Lab Schools are not for every teacher.
Signed,
One extremely happy parent.

Submitted by old student (not verified) on July 7, 2013 4:27 pm
Well, Well, Well. Sorry too be a year late. To read this story! I wish someone told me and I would love to witness in court and give a wouderful suprise to Dr. June Brown. I told her someday it will come back at her. That I look up my old principal. That did a fraud I knew she was up too no good. That I told my mother I did not want to go to her school. When we were face to face Back in the day! Dr. June Brown had a school called Main Line Academy back in the day or still do! I was in that school in King of Pussia in 1992 to 1994.
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