Banned Educational Consultant Working With Brooklyn Charter School

By Bryan Graham on May 23, 2013 5:37pm | Updated on May 23, 2013 5:39pm

 George Leonard (left) and Niaka Gaston, executives at the nonprofit Friends of Bedford, are banned from working with the Department of Education.
George Leonard (left) and Niaka Gaston, executives at the nonprofit Friends of Bedford, are banned from working with the Department of Education.
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Facebook/Friends of Bedford Academy

NEW YORK CITY — The executive of an educational consulting firm who was banned from working for the Department of Education in 2009 has been working at a charter school in East New York since winter.

George Leonard, who runs an nonprofit consulting firm called Friends of Bedford, has been contracted at the Imagine Me Leadership Charter School in Brooklyn even though he was barred from working for the city school system four years ago for misuse of funds while principal of Bedford Academy High School.

Leonard had been declared ineligible to work for the DOE following a 2009 investigation that found he used thousands of dollars to pay the salaries of employees who were not qualified to be regular DOE employees.

In 2011, Leonard's Friends of Bedford billed the DOE for $59,000 for professional development and tutoring services it provided Brownsvile’s Mott Hall Bridges Academy, which drew criticism from city investigators who claimed the DOE was not doing enough to prevent blacklisted firms from obtaining contracts.

Sources at the school said its new director, Katherine Corbett, took over during the winter and hired Leonard's firm. They said Corbett essentially started her own LLC, which the charter school pays, then she pays Leonard's firm. The teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shared documents relating to the school with the Friends of Bedford logo on it, in addition to memos from school officials where Leonard is CC'd.

Teachers at the school have been disgruntled since receiving letters in April saying they were being fired at the end of the year and they would have to reapply for their jobs.

The Department of Education had no comment when asked whether contractors on its banned list were eligible to work for charter schools.

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