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Former Thackston board president responds to allegations
Helen Thackston's Charter School is at risk of losing its charter for multiple issues, including allegations involving self-dealing by its former board president. Wochit
Helen Thackston Charter School's former board president is disputing allegations of self-dealing made by York City School District.
In a June resolution moving to start revocation proceedings for Thackston’s charter, the district school board stated a charter school board member failed to disclose his ownership stake in GeoSource Capital LLC, which Thackston contracted with during the 2013-14 school year to provide homeland security curriculum services.
Michael Mehosky, who served as Thackston's board president when it voted on the contract, wrote in an email Monday that he started GeoSouce with a partner in 2010 but sold all of his interests to another shareholder in 2012 before becoming board president.
He added in his email that he disclosed his previous relationship with GeoSource's presenters to board members prior to the company's presentation, and he did not receive any compensation related to the contract.
Mehosky sent a follow-up email Tuesday stating that he has contacted his former law firm to obtain documentation proving he relinquished his interest in GeoSource prior to becoming board president and would send that to The York Dispatch when he receives it.
He added that he recalls he, another board member and the school's solicitor met with the city to discuss the GeoSource contract and lay out a progress plan, and they were fine to move forward, though he doesn't recall the date of that meeting.
York City school board President Margie Orr, reached by phone Wednesday, said she's confident that what is written in the resolution regarding GeoSource is correct.
GeoSource: GeoSource was started as a part-time financial solutions provider to help fund green energy projects, and Mehosky recommended the company be considered to address deficiencies with the school's homeland security portion of its charter because of the partners' considerable background with government, military and defense agencies, he wrote.
Pennsylvania Department of State records show the company is still active and registered to an address on Legacy Lane in York Township, which is a residence previously owned by Mehosky, according to county assessment records.
Mehosky wrote that he was unaware the company was still active in Pennsylvania before being informed by The York Dispatch.
Business owners are not required to submit any paperwork to the state when they sell interests to other stakeholders within a limited liability company, and a company is not required to inform the state if it changes its address, according to a Department of State official.
The York City school board referenced a lack of homeland security training in the resolution to begin revocation hearings.
A 2013 Facebook post by Lincoln Charter School announcing the partnership between Thackston and GeoSource provides three GeoSource principals who would be involved in the partnership: Sam Brown, a former federal government employee; Lt. Col. Randy Marcoz, a retired Army intelligence officer; and Courtney West, a former Marine and FBI agent.
The post states that the partnership would provide students with an "opportunity to learn emergency management, cyber security, high level communications, national incident management system training, and other aspects of preventing emergencies and keeping our nation functioning if there is an emergency."
Contact information for West could not be located, and multiple voicemail messages left for Brown and Marcoz were not returned.
Brown is currently working for a private security firm based in Colorado, and his online company profile touts his development of a "program for at-risk youth in an inner-city school in York, PA," where he trained teachers and students in resistance to bullying and responding to threats.
Services provided: Mehosky wrote that since he wasn't in the classroom, he recommended The York Dispatch talk to former teachers and students about their experience with GeoSource instructors, but no one directly involved with the school's operations at the time has been able to confirm exactly what services the company provided.
Jenn Leisenring, a former teacher at Lincoln Charter School, said Wednesday she recalls Brown delivering a particularly powerful presentation to teachers from Lincoln and Thackston on safety preparedness.
"I remember walking away feeling more knowledgeable," Leisenring said, recalling the presentation was during a time when several school shootings had recently occurred.
She said that presentation was the only time she recalls interacting with anyone from GeoSource, though she acknowledges she wouldn't have been aware of their dealings directly with Thackston students, teachers and faculty.
Others who served on the board when it voted on the contract — including Patricia Maher, Dorothy Sweeney, Stephani Brown and Greg Ford — could not be reached or did not return requests for comment.
Thackston's principal at the time, Khaleel Desaque, currently serves as director of school improvement for the state Department of Education. He responded to questions via email Tuesday stating that the situation was a board matter and referring all further questions to his attorney, Sandra Thompson, who has not returned a voicemail message.
Among the services Mehosky wrote that he recalls GeoSource providing were: civics, situational awareness, self defense, field trips, certificates, award ceremony, a security assessment (also conducted for Lincoln Charter School) and teacher training classes.
Contract: Mehosky also recommended that The York Dispatch obtain a copy of the signed contract and records from the 2013-14 school year of GeoSource employees signing in and out of the school.
"Again, that should be easy information to obtain to ensure that the contract was indeed satisfied," he wrote.
Obtaining a copy of the contract has proved difficult for Thackston, however. The York City school board asked Thackston in March to provide copies of all contracts with GeoSource no later than April 7, but Thackston's counsel has responded that it could not find any such contract, according to the resolution.
The York Dispatch has submitted a Right-to-Know request to Thackston's solicitor seeking all available information regarding its contract with GeoSource.
Mehosky concluded his most recent email stating that he has contacted his attorney, who recommends he not say anything further.
Helen Thackston will hold its next board meeting July 27. Thackston has not been informed of revocation hearing dates or the appointment of a hearing officer, according to Thackston's solicitor, Brian Leinhauser.
— If you or anyone you know has any knowledge of GeoSource or the services it provided to Helen Thackston Charter School, please contact reporter David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.