Will School Board do anything about Camelot fiasco?

In 2010, the Escambia County School Board voted 4-1 to approve a one-year, $1.8-million contract with Camelot Schools of Pennsylvania, LLC. to take over the education of some of the most at-risk and special needs students by consolidating ESEAL and A.V. Clubbs. The contract was renewed last year.

Both the daily newspaper, in a rare negative article on Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, and the IN questioned this 2010 contract after allegations of force used by Camelot staff in their other schools surfaced. Thomas never bid out the contract and sprung it on the school board with little time for investigation—something which has become standard operating procedure for the Thomas administration.

Several teachers and parents protested the move, but the board dismissed their complaints.

“The proposed programs that Camelot will bring to our district emphasize discipline, parental engagement, increased attendance, and increased student achievement,” wrote Board member Jeff Bergosh on his blog after the vote. “These items are, quite frankly, just what many of these students desperately need.”

This fall, two Camelot teachers were arrested and charged with battery on a student. The 2012 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results were released on May 18. Camelot Academy has only one ninth grader reading on grade, according to the results. With only 10 tenth graders taking the test, the state didn’t release those results.

On his blog, Bergosh praised in 2010 his vote and those of the majority of the board for Camelot.

“It was nice to see the entire board discuss, debate, contemplate, and ultimately act decisively on this matter–and now the students and taxpayers will benefit,” he wrote. “I’m excited to watch this successful, proven company go to work in our district to improve the lives of our students!”

Bergosh has been very critical of A.A. Dixon charter school for its first year of low FCAT scores. Yet he has yet to remark about the violence and poor academic performance of Camelot.