LORAIN — The co-founder of a search firm in charge of selecting the Lorain Schools CEO finalists is also now the head of ERDI, a series of education-centric cohorts.
A member of one of those cohorts is David Hardy — the new Lorain Schools CEO.
Hardy said the purpose of the cohorts is for superintendents and assistant superintendents to provide feedback on educational products in the spring and the fall.
“It’s really a membership where you get to go and learn about new products and things like that for education,” he said. “And then we get paid to provide the feedback.”
Hardy said he’s been paid roughly $4,000 to provide feedback since he began working with ERDI in 2014 as a part of his employment as the deputy superintendent for academics with the St. Louis Public Schools.
Hardy said when he became a part of the program, Paul Dulle was its CEO, but this summer Joseph Wise, co-founder of Atlantic Research Partners, will be taking over that position.
Atlantic Research Partners was hired by the Lorain Academic Distress Commission to search for CEO candidates and narrow the 37-person applicant pool to five finalists, which included Hardy.
The Lorain district was seeking a CEO because failing test scores and poor state report card grades caused it to be classified by the state as under academic distress in 2013. State House Bill 70, passed in 2015, says that if a district is in academic distress and under the supervision of an academic distress commission for four years, the old commission will be disbanded and a new one will be appointed to hire a CEO.
The CEO is expected to have all of the power of a superintendent as well as most of the power given to a school board, except for putting levies or bond issues on the ballot.
After two years in power, the CEO also can take “failing” buildings and turn them into charter schools.
Hardy’s connections to Wise were called into question before he was hired at it was discovered four of the finalists had ties to him.
In 2016 Hardy attended the National Superintendents Academy put on by Atlantic Research Partners and, according to a story from the Vindicator in Youngstown, is the latest iteration of a company called The SUPES Academy.
According to a Vindicator article, Atlantic Research Partners acquired parts of SUPES in 2015 after it was embroiled in a kickback scandal that sent former owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, along with former Chicago Schools CEO and SUPES consultant Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who used to lead the Cleveland Schools, to prison.
Hardy said he’s met Wise once, maybe twice. The state’s only other school CEO imposed by House Bill 70, Youngstown’s Krish Mohip, also had ties to ERDI.
Vindicator reporter Amanda Tonoli said Mohip confirmed Wednesday that he worked with ERDI, as he served as an administrator in the Chicago Public Schools before coming to Youngstown.
Tonoli later said Mohip resigned his work with ERDI, effective immediately, Wednesday.
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