Court document alleges J.C. Hayward was paid consultant for company in Options case


Options Public Charter School, where three former senior managers, board chairwoman J.C. Hayward, and a senior official at the D.C. Public Charter School Board are accused of concocting an elaborate contracting scam. (Marlon Correa/The Washington Post)
November 4, 2013

D.C. television news personality J.C. Hayward served as a paid consultant for one of two companies involved in an alleged scheme to divert millions of taxpayer dollars from Options Public Charter School, according to a court document filed in D.C. Superior Court on Monday.

In the document, the D.C. Office of the Attorney General argues that Hayward should not be removed from a case that implicated former managers of Options in an alleged self-dealing scheme. A civil complaint filed in October said that the managers funneled at least $3 million to two for-profit companies they ran, and the complaint named Hayward as a defendant in her role as chairwoman of the school’s board of trustees.

As the school’s board chairwoman, Hayward allegedly signed contracts and approved bonuses for the former managers, according to the complaint. But her lawyer has claimed that Hayward knew nothing about the contracting scam, and he sought to have Hayward removed from the case, arguing that she “not only did not benefit financially from the alleged scheme but was entirely unaware of its existence.”

The new accusation suggests that Hayward approved payments to the companies in her role as chairwoman while receiving money from one of those companies as a consultant. The court document — filed Monday, according to a spokesman for the attorney general’s office — does not say how much money Hayward allegedly received in payments, how long she consulted for the company or what the consulting entailed.

Hayward declined to comment when reached by telephone Monday evening. “I really don’t want to respond to anything right now,” Hayward said.

Hayward’s lawyer, Jeffrey S. Jacobovitz, said prosecutors told him Hayward received “a negligible amount of money” from the company and that the payments were approved by lawyers.

The other defendants in the case have denied wrongdoing.

Hayward is a well-known veteran anchor for Channel 9 (WUSA) who has served on the boards of local community organizations. She has not appeared on the air since the complaint was filed Oct. 1 and the station placed her on administrative leave.

Her Web site, which features photographs of an Options board meeting she hosted at her home, has not been updated since Oct. 1.

In the document filed Monday, D.C. prosecutor Bennett Rushkoff — chief of the public advocacy section of the D.C. Office of the Attorney General — asked the judge to deny Hayward’s request to be removed from the case.

Rushkoff said Hayward’s attorney, after filing a motion to dismiss, filed an amendment that deleted key claims, including that she received no money in her role as board chairwoman, had no ownership interest in the two companies and did not profit from the alleged scheme.

“But having recently received information that Hayward was a paid consultant” for Exceptional Education Services, one of the two for-profit companies involved in the case, Rushkoff wrote, “the District is not in a position to concede that she received no compensation for her service to the school.”

Jacobovitz said he amended the documents after prosecutors informed him that Hayward had received some amount of money for serving on the company’s board. Initially, he said, prosecutors informed him that Hayward had not received compensation.

Rushkoff argued that even if Hayward didn’t realize that she was aiding the alleged scheme, she should still be held responsible for her actions. “Otherwise, the Attorney General will be powerless to proceed against officers and directors who do not understand the consequences of what they are doing,” he wrote.

Options serves about 400 at-risk teens in Northeast Washington. Anthony Herman, a lawyer representing the school, said that the allegations against Hayward “are deeply troubling and, if true, would be a serious breach of her fiduciary obligation to the school and the at-risk children it serves.”

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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