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Monday, February 10, 2014

Easton Charter School Advocate On ARD For Indecent Assault

Vincent Ford, center, with members of Shiloh Baptist Church
Vincent Ford, age 63, lead advocate for the "Strong Foundations Charter School" in Easton, made his case to the Easton Area School Board in a contentious meeting last week. I'm sure he told everyone that he graduated from Howard University. But he failed to disclose that he's been accused of sexual offenses in Monroe County, and is currently on ARD, a special program for first offenders.

Though this never hit the newspapers, Pennsylvania maintains online docket sheets of criminal cases. They reveal that, in December 2012, Ford was charged by state police in Monroe County with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion; aggravated indecent assault without consent; and indecent assault without the consent of another. The factual basis for these charges is unknown. The first two charges were withdrawn by prosecutors, and the third was waived into common pleas court.

On November 27, 2013, Ford was placed on ARD, and assessed costs and restitution, which remain outstanding.

The docket sheets list Ford's birthday as 2/19/50, which is the date listed on both his LinkedIn page (February 19) and on Facebook (2/19/50). So the charter school applicant and ARD participant are one and the same.

Participation in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is designed to rehabilitate and promote prompt disposition of criminal charges. A person in this program is still presumed innocent, but if he violates the program, he can be forced to answer the charges.

Ford is identified as the "founding coalition chairperson" for Strong Foundations Charter School.

The school board has until March 15 to decide on granting this charter to an organization whose founding chair is on ARD for a sexual offense.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Bernie O'Hare said...

It is what it is. If EASD feels comfortable granting a charter school application to someone on ARD for indecent assault, that's their call. I believe in the charter school concept, but this application is obviously suspect.

Anonymous said...
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Lehigh Valley Black News Network said...

hmmmm...could be circumstantial...who knows...I'm not sure you have all the details (or tried to get them)...trying to find the connection of this post as it relates to a political Blog. (Public School Funds I guess)...sometimes it's not as Black & White as it 'is what it is' maybe... that's why the Express Times didn't touch it, or maybe they don't know....If 'folks'feel comfortable reading an imbalanced Blog post... that's their call...I believe some of your post are not motivated by racial bias but this post is suspect.

Anonymous said...

@513
Speaking as a white dude, I have to tell you I saw nothing racial in the post. I did find it interesting that nobody on the school board vetted any of the people involved.

Anonymous said...

Just curious - you'd think the state would mandate a background check of the officers of the charter school.
Isn't one required?

Anonymous said...

Bernie has no racial bias. He hates everyone equally.

Anonymous said...

Shocked. Just Shocked.

Anonymous said...

ARD for a sexual offense seems unlikely. I think it's reserved for non violent offenses only. He should be a registered sex offender.

Anonymous said...

Legally, he's presumed innocent and has no record. But he's a convicted sexual predator in the court of Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Norco Twink said...
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Bernie O'Hare said...

"you'd think the state would mandate a background check of the officers of the charter school.
Isn't one required?"


I'm not all that familiar with the law bc I don't do school boards as a rule. My guess is that there are no state-performed background checks until the school is approved. Then Ford collects his dough and walks awat.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"ARD for a sexual offense seems unlikely."

It can be given for just about any misdemeanor. It is up to the DA.

Anonymous said...

would you kindly erase all the comments referring to a sexual act such as the first comment. It's offensive. It takes away from the story, which is important.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I honored your request. i believe these comments, which don't bother me terribly, can be offensive to other readers. But what got me is your point that they detract from the story. I suspect that is why most of them were posted. They will reappear bc trolls love to repost deleted comments, but i will delete.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I think that you are reporting information that is very important to people in the Easton
area. It deserves to be viewed and commented on without the distractions. There are some very prominent people in the Easton community supporting this proposed charter school. They need to reconsider their position in view of the information that you have reported.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVBN, If it is racist to report that the lead advocate for a charter school was charged with a host of sex offenses, and placed on ARD for one of them, then I'll plead guilty. I believe that school directors and parents should know this before weighing in on the merits of this charter school. The race of the person involved is irrelevant to this story. I don't know why you brought it up unless you yourself are a bigot.

Being black does not excuse one of the public shame that should accompany ARD for a sexual offense. Nor should it excuse the shame that the person running "Lehigh Valley Black News Network" should feel for being forced to resign from Allentown parks under a cloud of suspicion and missing money.

Care to enlighten us on that, Kevin? Or is that bigoted, too?

I write about the Lehigh Valley, and the propriety of this charter school is certainly an issue.

Interestingly, the NAACP has come out against this school.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm not sure you have all the details (or tried to get them)"

I do not have all the details and make that clear. I do not know the factual basis for the charges. I have not spoken to the victim. I have reached out to Ford via the school. If he decides to respond, I will look for the victim and try to speak to him or her.

Mars Blackwell said...

Reading this article and the one on McDonald's coming to Forks makes me miss the Lehigh Valley so much.

February is Black History month. Support a Howard graduate!

Anonymous said...

I thought that admission to an ARD program required entry of a guilty plea?

As far as I know a "fictitious name" entity is not one of the entitles listed as suitable to be issued a charter in PA's Charter School Law ( 17-1717(a)) --or at least that is how the PA Dept of State listed the name of " Strong Foundation" issued to that person at that address.

One big problem is that once a license to operate is issued by some unwise Board its all but a license to write unending checks drawn on local tax pot without real opportunity to examine same, to benefit a select few while cutting services or raising taxes for just about everybody else.

Like in the extreme of tapping into a well off District the Charter can writ itself checks upwards of $75,000 per pupil per year

Anonymous said...

The window for white guilt closed after the OJ verdict. That's why Obama can't recover his approval rating, despite his supporters' goal-line defense of racism charges toward anyone who dares speak against his presidency. Bernie's right to point out this guy's potentially creepy behavior, regardless of his race. I want to hear all about it as it pertains to someone charged with educating children. The public ought to know.

Anonymous said...

The state does have some legal requirements about financial disclosures of key employees of charter schools but I'm not sure about any disclosures required of mere founding members or proposing persons . Of course failure to make required disclosure gets you less than one slap of wet noodle (See Auditor General Wagner's report re LV Charter High School of the Performing Arts )

I suspect Attila the Hun could found a Charter school and all would be OK provided Attila the Hun not actually teach or have contact with children.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:48, ARD is a pretrial diversion. It does not require a guilty plea. In my day, courts were unwilling to accept defendants into the program unless they acknowledged some responsibility. Don't know if that is still so.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bucko. You are just a big flip flopper. You never change. I don't understand why people listen to you anyway. No one gives a shit about your opinion. You can catch me everyday on WAEb. Stay Sharpe!

Anonymous said...

Shilo Shilo Shilo.

Frank Pintabone, Barron Vandeburg and Robert Obey. They are all members. Wonder what this group is going to do now?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I can't speak for Vandeburg and Obey bc I never met them. I know Frank and he has been opposed to this school. So are many members of Shiloh Church. More about that later.

Anonymous said...

No elected official opposed this school, to the best of my knowledge. They all will now. Good research on this one Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank you. I know that it was supported by Easton Mayor Sal Panto and Palmer Supervisor AnnaMarie Panella. They obviously had no idea how badly they were being led astray. Ford should have been more carefully vetted. Thankfully, this was discovered before the school doors swung open.

On the school board, I think Directors would be careful not to say anything until they had all the evidence. I said before that I thought Frank was opposed, bc of his debate with the Mayor, but I do not have a comment from him. He told me he is waiting for all the evidence.

Sal Panto, Jr. said...

Sal Panto says

Before someone starts to connect me to the organization please know that I am not on the Board or connected in any manner. True I sent a letter supporting this charter school because I believe in offering parents a choice. However, I also believe that the funding formula needs to be addressed by the state because the school district should not be paying the entire amount of the school. I know several of the individuals involved but I do not know the individual people are referencing here.

Concerns I voiced at the hearing had to do with the process used by the Board. It appeared to me to be blatantly orchestrated and scripted. Only the President asked the questions for the Board and as elected officials I would have liked to know who asked what questions and listened to some dialogue that may have followed.

The additional points I made had to do with the ongoing teacher cuts that have become an annual part of the district. My point to the Board that as you continue to reduce teachers and increase class size there will be more and more charter school applications by parents concerned about the quality of education provided.

Make no mistake, I am a strong supporter of pubic education and know that an educated populace is the key to the success of our government, the cure for our social ills and the base for our economic recovery.

I also pointed out to the Board the tremendous successes of our district and not just our athletic prowess. I mentioned the number of advanced placement courses offered; the number of seniors taking college level courses, the number of students that continue to tell me how their high school career has helped them get through college.

The "heated discussion" was a result of the President calling me back to the podium to accuse me as head of the city, for not "partnering" with the district and mentioning something about the city's tax rate which had nothing to do with the topic at hand and I don't think he understands the difference between tax millage and actual dollars paid.

I am in the district classrooms whenever invited. I attend committee meetings, athletic events, concert and plays. I read to students, serve as their tour guide of city historic sites and even served as the basketball coach for the DECA club fundraiser at the high school.

I am currently involved in a statewide group chairing the Mayors portion of the group to lobby the state for more equitable funding of of schools so that we level the playing field for all students regardless of the financial ability of the district they attend. I have also taken part in PLUS (Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools) with district officials and work with various state organizations for full day kindergarten. This Thursday and next Thursday I will at the middle school on a panel to discuss the issue of bullying in our schools. Wednesday of this week I will be on a conference call with Education Secretary Duncan to listen to their federal program to provide pre-school for all four year olds. I have also been invited to conferences in Washington with the secretary. Public education is a priority for me although it is not one of my responsibilities as Mayor.

I could go on and on about public education and our school district but in summary, as a former teacher in the district and as a person who graduated from Notre Dame High School where my parents sacrificed to pay for the tuition I strongly support the district but agree that parents should have a choice and if they choose that choice the district (taxpayers) shouldn't pay the total bill.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hello Sal,

I watched the video of the meeting in question, particularly your mini-debate with Frank. I was hoping for more. What I saw was a a passionate exchange, and I believe your comments here reflect pretty much what you said then. You spoke as a public education advocate yet a choice advocate who believes the funding mechanism needs to be re-visited. You did not really speak about this specific program.

My take on charter schools is to look at them on a case-by-case basis. I have supported some endeavors while opposing others. I am leery of people who sometimes seem more interested to me in making a quick buck than in the actual sacred trust of educating our youth.

I know where you stand on that count. I met you once for an interview. You have probably forgotten about it, but I still remember the enthusiasm and outright pleasure in your voice as you discussed reading to kindergarten kids earlier that day.

That day, I realized just what a good person you are.

As for the debate with Frank, I think he was defending the district against some of your complaints about things that existed before the current board members were installed.

It would be like him criticizing you for what happened under Mitman.

But this post is very specific. It is about a founding chair of a charter school on ARD for sex offenses, and who tried to keep that information from everyone until he was exposed by this blog. His selection, and his hope to be CEO at the school, casts grave doubt on the judgment used in this specific charter application.

I would not grant it. I doubt you would, either.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh yeah, i disagreed with your complaints about the process used.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit Sal... Tuition back in your day was minimal!

Bill Coker said...

Read on the Express site that he resigned and all the details of the ARD were exposed.

You scooped them all again, Bernie, no matter what some people think of you.

Congrats.

Anonymous said...

Bernie...an A for digging into matters and letting spotlight shine where it might ....
.....

Anonymous said...

Hey Sal, you owe Pintabone an apology. And you owe all the people there an apology for your unprofessional behavior. You were picking on the Board for procedures that are not up to this Board and things that happened many Boards ago. You lost my vote with the commuter tax. Now you made certain that you will never get my vote again with your behavior. Do us all a favor and just apologize brcause if Pintabone asks for an apology, it puts you in an awkward position. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. And better not show up to roast Frank at the roast. It will look petty if you do and petty if you don't.

Sorry Bernie for going off topic.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:29, Thanks. The check is in the mail.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You, too, Bill.

Anonymous said...

So this is politics? Sal Panto strongly supportd a charter school that he now claims to know nothing asbout it? Hand in the cookie jar?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sal supports the charter school concept and school choice. He did not speak to the specific details of the proposal or the people involved. I watched the video.

Anonymous said...

Sal, I wasnt going to comment, but I feel I need to give accurate information. I did NOT call you back to the podium and 'accuse you of not partnering with the district', my EXACT words were, maybe the city will partner with the district. You pointed out 'problems' with our district. So, I thought maybe we could get some help correcting the issues that THIS board inherited. My comment about taxes, were made in response to your comment of how " the city hasn't raised taxes in however many years.
As for the procedure of the meeting, no current board member or administrator has ANY experience with charters or their hearings. We as a board, TOGETHER, agreed to take the recommendations of our solicitor as to how to run this meeting. Had we opted to ignore our solicitor, and get ourselves in some type of legal issue, im sure we'd be talked about for that too.
Frank Pintabone

Sal Panto, Jr. said...

Mr. Pintabone
Suffice it to say that the only negative thing I said about the Board was the constant layoffs of teachers and the increase in class size. Everything else was positive. Sorry but the layoffs are very troubling and fact. You need to stop blaming past Boards, you are now the decision maker and your Board sets policies. I guess I should blame the current severe winter on Phil Mitman.

If you are going to quote me please give the total quote -- I stated that at each of the last four budget messages I include a statement that I will continue to hold the line on real estate taxes because I know the school district will need to increase their taxes and public education is very important to me. I never blamed you for increasing taxes, I blame you for the tremendous number of teacher layoffs.

Other than that the school district is doing a great job in spite of the financial difficulties placed on you by the decreasing state funding. I even complimented the Board of the selection of the superintendent and instead of accepting the compliment you brushed me aside.

Anonymous said...

Sal is showing his classy side again. He can be the angry drama queen Frank so you might as well get used to it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Since he is an elected official, I will allow that statement. But anonymous personal attacks are very petty.

Anonymous said...
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John Richetta said...
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Bernie O'Hare said...

1) Let's avoid the nasty personal shots. 2) Don't impersonate others.