Testimony of Lynda Rubin to the Board of Education, June 27, 2019

Opposition to Item #40 – Sale of 4030 Brown St to Belmont Futures

I’ve thrown out my original first paragraph because I wanted to ask what will it take to ever close a charter, even one that was already voted to be non-renewed?

For 17 years the SRC followed its mandate to privatize and charterize our educational system which led to the public’s clamoring for a return of the district to local control.

Today, I’m here specifically to urge you to vote NO on the sale of 4030 Brown St., a District building, to Michael Karp and his newly formed non-profit, Belmont Futures. Mr. Karp portrays himself as one who just has to help out the city’s communities and children. This multi-millionaire real estate developer who owns much of University City’s undergraduate student housing is a very good salesman. He claims he’s in it for the good of the children. But he is, after all, a wealthy CEO who likes to be in charge.

Two years ago, Karp refused to sign the SRC’s conditions for renewal, but there were no repercussions when he loudly and consistently refused. He’s quoted as saying that he thought that with the election of Mayor Kenny, he’d be able to buy the building. I assume Karp’s sitting on the PICA Board that oversees City expenditures might have had something to do with his assumption. But again, that was not the case. For two years his refusal to sign any agreement with conditions to improve the school was suddenly changed when he decided to use this as a chit to trade for being able to buy 4030 Brown St. In other words, he believes he doesn’t have to pay attention to the Board unless he wants something from you.

In 1999, Michael Karp was sued by the Public Interest Law Center and the Tenants’ Action Group on on behalf of many families with children who were restricted to live in the basement apartments at complexes he managed. After months of fighting them, he finally settled the case making the largest Fair Housing settlement to date with a $750,000 cash settlement to the plaintiffs, his agreement to not repeat this practice in any of his apartments and to provide training to his staff, in return for–wait for it–not having to admit guilt to violating the Fair Housing Act.

Is this the kind of real estate manager and charter operator you want to sell a school district building to? Not only is he not deserving of your trust for anything he puts in that sale agreement, he has a history of duping the public and not expecting to be held accountable for it.

I’ve sat in many of the District’s past SGS meetings with parents about their neighborhood’s school. They may have been poor, but I saw so many who prized the multi-generational aspect of their school. They complained about the District’s removal of program supports and staff from the school, but wanted their principal and teachers to remain. None of them wanted their school closed or moved elsewhere.

Do Not Sell 4030 Brown St. to anyone, especially not to Michael Karp.