“You Don’t Know Me…”
That’s how school takeover architect and Gov. Deal’s Deputy Chief-of-Staff Erin Hames started her phone conversation with Atlanta Public Schools’ new superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen, shortly after Carstarphen arrived from Austin.
Hames continued, “You have no reason to believe me. But I am telling you, you are about to lose upwards of $60 million…back to the federal government, if you don‘t come in and talk to us about how we can help you.”
We don’t know what type of help the governor’s office suggested, but we know this: A little more than one year later, Atlanta Public Schools awarded the governor’s top aide a no-bid, $96,000 contract while Hames was still working in Deal’s office.
The fact that Hames used her position in the governor’s office to drum up business for her new company ReformEd raises plenty of ethics questions on its own.
But it gets even worse.
While Hames is raking in nearly six figures from APS to counsel Carstarphen and the board on how to avoid Deal’s school takeover, she continues to work on the governor’s school takeover legislation that she created while drawing $30,000 from the state.
To put it bluntly, Erin Hames is playing both sides of the same issue while pocketing tax dollars every step of the way.
>>>Join parents, Better Georgia and RiseUp Georgia in telling APS to fire Deal’s crony
But the superintendent defends her decision to hire Hames, admitting that “at the end of the day, we will be crushed at the state level if we don’t have people who have relationships and quality information that can help Atlanta Public Schools.”
Call it buying influence.
Call it cronyism.
Call it pay-for-play politics.
Call it a desperate school system doing whatever it takes to avoid Deal’s hostile takeover.
But buying into Gov. Deal’s systematic corruption is not what’s best for Atlanta’s students or teachers. And it’s not what’s best for Georgia.
If Dr. Carstarphen and Atlanta Public Schools truly want to help students, they would end Hames’ contract today.
Erin Hames’ contract with APS is just the beginning. Unless we stop her, she plans to work with targeted schools across Georgia. She will take money away from students and teachers as she peddles her political influence to other vulnerable school districts that she put in the crosshairs.
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