Corbett Forces Out Acting Education Secretary

William Harner

William Harner

Another one bites the dust. Gov. Tom Corbett asked for and received the resignation Monday of Acting Secretary of Education William Harner. He had served in the post only since June.

Corbett’s office announced the change but did not name a reason. The Patriot News cited an unnamed source who said Harner’s removal came when, “a background check on Harner uncovered a matter that occurred during his time at Cumberland Valley”.

Harner, 56, of Carlisle, previously served five years as superintendent for Cumberland Valley School District in Mechanicsburg.

He is the seventh of Corbett’s cabinet secretaries to leave the administration within the past year. The Governor ousted his Secretary of the DCNR in July after learning of racial language Richard Allan used in an email.

The departure follows a month in which numerous top administration staff left or were forced out, including Corbett’s Chief of Staff and his spokesman.

The Pa. Democratic Party emailed news of Harner’s resignation to reporters under the subject heading: “vet (v.) make a careful and critical examination of (something or someone).”

Harner’s acting replacement will be Dr. Carolyn C. Dumaresq – a long time veteran of Pa. education policy who ever worked as Executive Director of the Pa. State Education Association teachers’ union.

Here is the Corbett bio on Dumaresq:

Dr. Carolyn C. Dumaresq, the department’s Executive Deputy Secretary, will serve as acting Secretary of Education, effective immediately.

A former superintendent at Central Dauphin and Steelton-Highspire school districts, Dumaresq began her education career as a math teacher. Later, Dumaresq taught on a college level at the Harrisburg campuses of Temple and Penn State universities.

She served as executive director of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and president of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. Dumaresq worked for the state Department of Education from 1976 to 1983, and then joined the department again in 2011.

Dumaresq is the recipient of several awards with recognition coming from the Education Policy and Leadership Center, the Keystone Research Center, the American Association of University Women, the American Association of School Administrators, and was named Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year in 1994.

She has served leadership roles with the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators including president, board of governors, elections committee, chair of the legislative committee and president of the woman’s caucus.

Her community and social service has extended to the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, the Penn State Outreach Advisory Board, the National Council of State Education Agencies where she is a past president and the governing board of the Governor’s Center for Excellence and the Governor’s Work Force Investment Board.

Dumaresq, of Harrisburg, earned her bachelor’s degree from Hood College, her master’s degree from Villanova University and her doctorate in education with a concentration in personnel and labor relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

August 26th, 2013 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Corbett Forces Out Acting Education Secretary”

  1. basile says:

    Pandy1 about schools for profit:

    However, Pa. Cyber has political muscle as do its non-profit affiliates Lincoln Interactive and the National Network of Digital Schools. Now, a management group called Avanti is involved. By all accounts, Avanti is a for-profit corporation made up of former Pa. Cyber administrators.
    Incorporated in Pennsylvania and headquartered in Ohio, Avanti officials wouldn’t speak with KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan.
    Its mission is not clear except that it gives generously and often to politicians. Campaign records show that in past two years, its officers doled out $58,000 in political contributions, including $25,000 to the Republican Governors Association.

    Trombetta lists Avanti as his business affiliation and gave Gov. Corbett $5,000.
    “If people make contribution to me and think they are going to get something in return, they should ask for their money back,” Gov. Corbett said.
    As Attorney General, Tom Corbett’s office responded to a series of KDKA-TV reports questioning Pa. Cyber’s spending and summoned school officials before a Grand Jury investigating whether tax dollars were being misused.
    No action came out of the Grand Jury and as governor, his administration has been supportive.
    Trombetta has not spoken with Sheehan since KDKA-TV aired initial reports four years ago.
    He recently announced his retirement from Pa. Cyber, but with or without him, his empire will continue to grow and critics will continue to question whether that’s being done to the detriment of other Pennsylvania school districts.

    The relationships between the school and those businesses were a concern to former Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration, which late in its tenure asked PA Cyber for better accounting of its payments to spin-off entities. Gov. Tom Corbett’s Department of Education, though, opted early on to let the relationships continue without heightened accountability.
    Read more:

    On average, charter schools spend $13,411 per student per year, according to a report issued by state Auditor General Jack Wagner last month. Cyber charters, though, need fewer buildings and can keep staffing costs lower than bricks-and-mortar schools. Cyber charters spend an average of just $10,145 per student, Mr. Wagner found. They don’t have to return the balance.

    In 2005, PA Cyber found a way to shift some of the work of running the school, and a big chunk of the revenue, off of its books.
    The National Network of Digital Schools Management Foundation was created on Aug. 9, 2005, with Mr. Trombetta as its president. Seventeen days later, the PA Cyber board voted to contract with NNDS to manage its burgeoning charter school, in return for 12 percent of the school’s income.

    Read more:

    Still, the arrangement worried Mr. Rendell’s administration when PA Cyber applied to renew its charter in 2010, as it must do every five years.
    In a June 2010 document, Mr. Rendell’s secretary of education, Thomas Gluck, told PA Cyber that it “must provide more transparency in [its] agreement” with NNDS.
    NNDS must “disclose relevant details of the services rendered,” including listing the people working on behalf of PA Cyber, the dates and times of the services they performed, their hourly pay and their total pay. NNDS-hired subcontractors that work on behalf of PA Cyber should document their work, he wrote.
    PA Cyber “must make the corrections identified … or the Department will begin [charter] revocation proceedings,” Mr. Gluck wrote. He gave PA Cyber until March 31, 2011, to comply.
    PA Cyber waited until the day of the deadline to respond before declining to part the curtain on its dealings with NNDS. Mr. Trombetta wrote that NNDS’s “internal systems and structure are not set up to provide some of the information.” Changing its systems “may create a higher cost for services to their customers and put their organization at a competitive disadvantage.”

    Read more:

    Mr. Corbett’s Department of Education, which was newly in place at the time of PA Cyber’s response, was “satisfied with the actions they took,” said department spokesman Tim Eller. He noted that PA Cyber agreed to allow state agencies to audit its business dealings.
    Although it is not clear exactly what state Attorney General Tom Corbett Jr. is investigating, a statewide grand jury whose term recently ended heard testimony over several months about alleged financial shenanigans within Dr. Trombetta’s network. Prosecutors are expected to continue presenting evidence to a new grand jury next month.
    “I think it demeans the people who worked hard to create what we have,” he said. “People want to throw stones at people who are successful.”- Dr. Trombetta

    Cash cushion
    Students’ home school districts must pick up part of the tab for their education and pay the cyber charter school, whose expenses, critics say, are lower than traditional schools because there is no significant infrastructure to maintain, such as classrooms, swimming pools and stadiums.
    “The school has funneled millions of dollars into the construction of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center … without proper documentation, purpose or, at times, authority for such payments,” Michael Barney, a former business associate, charged in a 2005 letter to Dr. Trombetta.
    “Those dollars were assigned to the students to use for their education. They weren’t assigned to build a performing arts center,” particularly one that tuition-paying students on the other side of the state don’t have access to, she said.
    As for NNDS, Ms. Beyer said, “He’s taking these tuition payments and starting up some subsidiary business with the purpose of creating business out of the state.” NNDS sells services to 33 clients other than Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, including cyber charter schools in Ohio and New Mexico.

    Read more:

    A third example comes from Dr. Jessie B. Ramey’s Pittsburgh-based education blog, Yinzercation. Ramey follows the money trail between Pennsylvania’s top political donors and charter schools. For example, Van Gureghian, who was Gov. Corbett’s single largest campaign donor, owns a company that operates 150 charter schools in nine states (Ramey, 2010). Despite this, the Pennsylvania Department of Education continues to approve charter applications. Such flagrant misuse of taxpayer funds is unacceptable from any institution, let alone a public institution. Privatization of public schools opens the door for impropriety such as this.

  2. Larry says:

    will her appointment to the Corbett administration sully the fine reputation of Dumaresq?

  3. PAINDY1 says:

    Can any citizen of Pennsylvania truly expect the Corbett administration (I mean the John Brabender administration) to have the independence to regulate Charter schools? THERE IS TOO MUCH AD MONEY TO BE MADE FROM CHARTER SCHOOLS! It is so politically inconvenient to examine if tax payers funds aren’t be wasted by unscrupulous Profiteers.

  4. PAINDY1 says:

    This Brabender/Corbett administration is quickly becoming a Harrisburg Bar joke: How many women does acting Governor Brabender have to hire to close a gaping gender gap? The punchline is being written with each day. Regarding Ms. Puig, I suggest she be re-assigned to ROB GLEASON’s PAGOP as a female RACE HUSTLER. Here is one woman who is certainly not afraid to tell the world that she sure done loves the White FOLK, and she certainly is scared of our First Non-American President.

  5. Sean says:

    On behalf of those of us who have to worry about actual children in actual schools instead of babbling mono manically about Camelot, having a former PSEA official take the reins cannot be a good thing.

  6. Observer says:

    The frequency with which this keeps happening is just a reflection of a simple fact: there are very few intelligent, moral Republicans who are willing to give up the pursuit of riches to serve the Public Interest. Republicans truly believe that their highest calling is to accumulate personal wealth. Thus, we have have people like Corbett who are only in office to feather their own beds.

  7. PAINDY1 says:

    IS POLITICAL NECROPHILIA FOR FINANCIAL GAIN STILL A HIGH CRIME AND MISDEMEANOR IN PA? 1. Is Governor Brabender really being paid by Highmark for his creative genius? Shouldn’t the employees of this great insurer and their rate payers be protected from out-of-state Political predators? Can the Corbett Administration shed some light on Governor Brabender’s fees, if any from this insurer? 2. Should COS Gromis-Baker be asked to resign and clear out her office because of the compromising position she has put her employer on paper, Tom Corbett and her husband’s employer, that world-class medical institution and leading employer, UPMC, by allowing Governor Brabender to do his own self-interested bidding? 3. If Governor Brabender has all this influence in the Governor’s office, is it possible, that the Virginia political consultant might have enjoyed the same power and privileges in the AG office? Not that 2 of his more famous clients, Mr. Corbett and Marybeth Buchanan would ever be accused of political prosecutions. Mr. Brian O’Neill, Jon Micek, Peter DeCoursey, Colin McNickle, Bob Guzzardi, and Signor Ferrari there probably is a real-life story of some importance to PA taxpayers lurking here somewhere. But who really cares about PA Taxpayers-they are just the RUBES.

  8. Corbett’s office announced the change but did not name a reason. The Patriot News cited an unnamed source who said Harner’s removal came when, “a background check on Harner uncovered a matter that occurred during his time at Cumberland Valley”.

    So Corbett’s hires are only vetted after they’re hired? Any idea what this was? Was it public record at the time? Yet he keeps Puig around?

  9. David Diano says:

    Corbett rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

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