They're getting the band back together at St. HOPE. The Sac Bee reported the other day that Michelle Rhee has been named chairwoman of the board at St. HOPE Public Schools, a charter school organization founded by her husband, former NBA superstar and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Rhee was a member of the St. HOPE board in 2006 and 2007, and was involved in a doozy of a scandal during her last run. A 2008 investigation by the inspector general for the Corporation for National Community Service resulted in a referral to the local U.S. attorney to prosecute Johnson for wasting federal subsidies totaling $845,018.75. Johnson, who was banned from taking federal grants for a time as a result of the findings, avoided indictment by agreeing to make restitution.
But on an uglier note: The inspector general also reported that several St. HOPE students accused Johnson of making inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. A St. HOPE employee, Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, told the inspector general's investigative team that after she reported suspicions that Johnson had molested a student, she got a visit from Rhee. Wong-Hernandez determined that Rhee, as a board member, was not concerned about the child's welfare, but was merely doing "damage control." Walpin's team also learned that Johnson approached one alleged victim and offered to pay $1,000 a month, ostensibly in exchange for her silence.
No criminal charges were ever filed against Johnson. Wong-Hernandez quit her job at the school to protest the way the school had handled the molestation investigations.
The inspector general, Gerald Walpin, says Rhee also tried to talk him into dropping his investigation of her future hubby. Rhee has said she had no romantic involvement with Johnson until after she'd left the St. HOPE board. They were married in 2011.
Rhee's new job comes as her shock-doctrine brand of corporate school reform—which seeks to privatize, voucherize, de-unionize, and generally demonize the American educational system—seems to be losing whatever national appeal it had. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported last month that Rhee's group, StudentsFirst, had pulled out of the state of Minnesota. Days after the Star-Tribune story, the Education Week blog reported that Rhee's group is also on the verge of dropping out of four more of the 18 states where she'd pushed her pro-charter platform.
Rhee started the group in 2010 after her bizarre departure from her post as schools chancellor in Washington D.C. Her rabbi in the nation's capital, incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty, got routed in the Democratic primary by challenger Vince Gray. Rhee made herself even less likable a day after the election when summing up the impact of what was as much a referendum on her and her deeds as it was on Fenty.
"Yesterday's election results were devastating, devastating," Rhee smarmed. "Not for me, because I'll be fine, and not even for Fenty because he'll be fine, but devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C."
And now she's back at St. HOPE. Good luck to the schoolchildren of Sacramento.
Below is our original story on the predations of Kevin Johnson, back when he was being hailed as the man who helped bring down Donald Sterling.
Photo via AP