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Editor’s note: The Star Tribune is refusing to print a response from the board of directors of Seed Daycare and Harvest Prep, the most successful educational institution in Minnesota when it comes to teaching, learning and success for students of color. IBNN NEWS has provided a copy (unedited) of the response sent to the Star Tribune for readers to get a total view in simple clarity of what is really going on.
Posted by Minnesota’s #1 Online Black Owned News and Information Website IBNN
Minneapolis, MN (IBNN/Education and Politics/August 16, 2012)…As the Board of Directors of Seed Daycare, we are very disappointed in the deceptive characterizations of and inaccurate conclusions about our organization and associated schools as alluded to by reporter Steve Brandt in recent Star Tribune articles.
Mr. Brandt’s headline in the Star Tribune’s August 10, 2012 article incorrectly suggests that the state is investigating a “failed north Minneapolis charter school” associated with Seed’s CEO and Founder, Eric Mahmoud. Surely it could not be the two charter schools that Mr. Mahmoud currently runs because the Star Tribune ranked them just one week ago as the top two public schools in the state of Minnesota in educating poor children and children of color. Mr. Brandt may have been suggesting the “failed charter school” being Synergy Academy, which closed in 2002. The facts show that Synergy Academy was neither a charter school nor an Eric Mahmoud enterprise.
Mr. Brandt’s article conflates two issues: (a) the lease arrangements between Seed Daycare, as landlord, and Harvest Prep/Best Academy as tenants, and (b) the history of the Synergy facility.
Neither Seed Daycare nor Harvest Prep were parties to the grant agreement to build Synergy Residential Academy. It was an agreement between Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), Synergy Residential Academy and the State of Minnesota signed in December of 1999, to construct a residential facility for at risk youth on land owned by Seed, leased to Synergy.
The only contractual agreement with Seed was a lease between Seed, as landlord, and Synergy, as tenant. Synergy defaulted under that lease, failing to pay utilities and other amounts owing in a total amount of nearly $100,000. After Synergy failed to cure its defaults, Seed terminated the Synergy lease. To date, this default amount has never been repaid.
No questions or concerns have ever been raised by the State of Minnesota to Seed concerning the Synergy matter, until Mr. Brandt’s inquiry to the Minnesota Department of Education the past two weeks. Seed’s leasing arrangements have undergone keen scrutiny by legal and financial counsel prior to each transaction. In fact, the leases are reviewed and approved annually by the Minnesota Department of Education.
In addition, prior to Steve Brandt’s article, we had had no communications from the Minnesota Department of Education or the state legislative auditor relative to a current review of our financials, which have undergone thorough state reviews every year. Immediately upon reading the articles, we proactively reached out to and had a conversation with the state legislative auditor to determine what additional information may be needed and to offer our full cooperation. We also reminded the state of our schools’ consistently clean audits performed by external auditors that confirm the current financial health and integrity of our financial systems.
Mr. Brandt also says we did not respond to his offer for an interview. He failed to disclose that we only received the reams of documentation he asked us to review and respond to a few hours before his deadline. Had he provided us a legitimate opportunity to inform, we would have shared the information above, the documentation of which we also will share with any State office, should it be requested.
As a Board of Directors whose mission it is to responsibly manage the public’s trust in educating our children and ethically managing the public funds to do so, we confidently stand behind not only the integrity and reporting of our financial systems and transactions; but also behind the inspirational and innovative leadership of Eric Mahmoud. In closing, our students are achieving, our finances are solid, and our leadership and management are strong.