Who’s In Charge Of Facebook’s Gift To Newark Schools?

Khaatim Sheerer El can concentrate full-time on helping the Newark Schools divvy up nearly $100 million donated by Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

The good news for Khaatim Sheerer El is that he can now concentrate full-time on helping the Newark Schools divvy up nearly $100 million donated by Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, plus the equivalent in matching grants. The bad news is that his schedule opened up because he was forced to resign from Atlanta’s public school board.

The southern city has been plagued by an extensive cheating scandal, in which teachers allegedly falsified students’ test scores, but several sources told Newark newspaper The Star-Ledger that El has not been implicated.

Georgia state Senator Vincent Fort (D-39) told The Star-Ledger that fellow newspaper The Atlanta Journal-Constitution began investigating the cheating scandal in 2008, and the school board formed a “Blue Ribbon Commission,” to investigate the matter; but the group was made up of board members and served as a cover-up operation.

Fort told The Star-Ledger that when Khaatim Sheerer El forced the resignation of board chairwoman Lashonda Butler Burks, “Khaatim El crossed the wrong people,” and he was forced out. “When he found out the dimensions of what was going on, what Khaatim did was say, ‘Hold it While he wasn’t perfect, he did the best he could under a tremendous, just absolutely intense spotlight.”

A report by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as cited by The Star-Ledger:

Actions by certain board members have eroded public trust and confidence in the board’s ability to properly govern the school district. Also impacting the effective operation of the system is the current chairman’s leadership style.

El, a Newark native who graduated from Science High School, brought that leadership style to his current role as chief of staff for the Foundation for Newark’s Future, according to The Star-Ledger. For his part, he told the newspaper:

I failed to protect thousands of children. It remains to be seen, no matter how deep this thing goes, whether the soul of Atlanta has really been stirred. Improving education has been my life’s passion, and there is no better place or time to continue this work than in my hometown and in the schools where I got my start.

Readers, what does all of this make you think about how El might divvy up the $100 million that Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg donated to Newark Schools?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.