Valerie Jablow, parent advocate in the District of Columbia, has untangled a tangled knot of obscure real estate deals, all derived from what is supposedly public property.

It begins with a large D.C. public school building formerly known as Taft junior high school.

At 201,000 square feet, Taft is a very large, DC-owned former DCPS junior high school adjacent to a public recreation area. It was closed in 2008 and since leased to charters–first Hyde, then its successor, Perry Street Prep, which holds a lease for the entire space.

But Perry Street Prep is hardly the only school located at Taft.

Perry Street sublets a portion of the building to LAMB. Perry Street also sublets another portion of the building to the private (and wealthy) nonprofit Charter School Incubator Initiative (CSII), which was founded (per its tax return) to provide new charter schools with facilities at below market rates. And Perry Street sublets yet another portion of the building to a small private school, St. Jerome.

In turn, CSII sublets its rented portion of Taft to LAMB.

And now, LAMB is proposing to rent a portion of its subleased space to Sojourner Truth (presumably in anticipation of moving its entire school out of Taft in the next few years to a new facility in Ward 4).

That lease between LAMB and Sojourner is in the materials on the charter board website for the charter board’s February 2020 meeting.

But the posted lease is missing exhibits A, B, and C. In their place are blank pages.

Jablow works on the old-fashioned assumption that the public has a right to know what is being done with its money and its public facilities.

The D.C. officials have different ideas. To whom are they accountable as they ransack and dispose of the public trust?

Jablow asks the money question:

Why is our city seemingly not ensuring that the greatest monetary benefit from subletting and leasing a publicly owned building goes directly to the public?