By: Sharon Aron Baron
Kings Point residents recently discovered the City’s not-so-transparent plans for a new charter high school to be built near their community as well as their own commissioner’s involvement with school officials at a recent meeting.
In December, residents from Kings Point’s Southhampton community discovered that the City wants to build a new middle and high school charter school at the Sports Complex in Tamarac close to their community. This would mean relocating the skate park, tennis courts and basketball courts to make way for the school. Residents told the commission they saw City Commissioner Diane Glasser with the school principal and architect for the Doral Academy at the Tamarac Diner filling residents in on the plans.
According to Glasser, her explanation for attending the meeting with charter school officials was that she was just trying to find out more information. Now it looks like Glasser’s live-in assistant Percy Johnson wants more information as well, because another meeting is being held with the school principal and the architect with Kings Point residents on January 9, and he’s taken on an active role.
Johnson, is coordinating the meetings and using the email TamaracforDoralAcademy@gmail.com. Does the email address insinuate the meetings are more than just an information gathering session and more of a pro-charter effort? Is Percy Johnson the leader of the Tamarac for Doral Academy effort?
“I thought it was a joke coming from Percy Johnson because he’s not an honest person,” said Tony Sutera, President of the Southhampton community, who like many in his building, were mailed an invitation to the meeting held on January 9.
Johnson, who is currently on the Tamarac Parks and Recreation Board was arrested back in 2012 on a single count of Grand Theft for stealing over $2,000 in funds from the Democratic Council of Club President’s. He received a withhold of adjudication and 18 months State probation. In 2013, Johnson was elected as secretary of the Kings Point Democratic club.
“How could he [Johnson] be doing this while living with the commissioner of the district?” asked Sutera. “Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”
I contacted Johnson who denied earning any compensation from the charter school, and said that he was only volunteering his time.
“I volunteer for the New England Club, that’s all that I’m doing. I’m volunteering my name to take names, that’s all.”
I asked him if TamaracforDoralAcademy@gmail.com was his email address.
“That’s not mine. They just put that on the email,” said Johnson. “I’m just a volunteer for the New England Club. Is that a crime?”
Johnson stated he is neither for nor against the school, however, he would not tell me why he had an interest in a future school in our City. He would neither disclose if he was a property owner in Kings Point, or if he was a parent. “You’re a reporter, you can research that yourself, Sharon.”
Two things are clear about the proposed school: senior residents in the area are opposed to a school so close to their community. Secondly, the City has never done a study to find out if the area has enough middle and high school students to support it. Both Millennium Middle and JP Taravella High School are currently accepting reassignments, which means both are under-enrolled. Since JP Taravella is only 2.5 miles away, what is the justification for building a new high school so close to a major Broward County Public School?
Could there be a potential windfall for Glasser after leaving office? Before Glasser was elected, in 2006 she had $15,000 handed to her in a brown paper bag for campaign work she did for Patte Atkins-Grad by builder Bruce Chait, who pled guilty unlawful compensation in 2010, and recently completed a four-year probation sentence.
Glasser said that she never looked in the envelope until she arrived home. She was supposed to be paid $4,000, but Chait paid her $15,000.
“It was a bonus,” said Glasser to the jury during Atkins-Grad’s trail for corruption, “For doing a good job on the campaign.”
Will any brown paper bags be passed around in 2016 after Glasser gets Doral Academy built?
Who exactly is reaping the reward here?
Her constituents certainly aren’t.
This is why residents should show a great deal of skepticism as to why her employee is involved in meetings promoting this superfluous charter school.
“It’s upsetting that the City of Tamarac is allowing someone who is an admitted thief to get involved with this new charter school,” said Sutera.