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Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Husband of Queens High School Superintendent Josephine Van Ess Makes a Nice Profit As a Vendor For the NYC Department of Education

The $650 suits sold by The Modern Day Man program, come in bright colors.Instagram @thenewportschool

From Betsy Combier, Editor: 

If corruption and fraud is your interest, the New York City Department of Education is a delight. 

I am always so amazed that Chancellor Banks and Mayor Adams believe that "mayoral control" means "take all the money, or as much as you want or think you can take without anyone coming after you". For the 2024 school year, that amount is about $37.5 billion. Of course, this includes making sure your friends and family get rich too.

 Just sayin...

Betsy Combier

NYC school chief’s husband is DOE vendor selling mentorship program with flashy $650 suits for kids

by Susan Edelman, NY POST, April 20, 2024

The husband of a Queens school chief is being paid tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars to provide a mentoring program for boys that includes the purchase of flashy $650 suits, The Post has learned.

The arrangement, which has the blessing of Chancellor David Banks, financially benefits Queens South High School superintendent Josephine Van Ess, and reeks of cronyism, critics say.

Ed Van Ess is married to Queens South High School Superintendent Josephine Van Ess.Facebook Ed VanEss

Edward Van Ess, the superintendent’s husband, is co-founder and co-owner of “The Modern Day Man,” a for-profit company, with business partner and fashion designer Ilbert Sanchez.

The company, which also does business as “Excellence in Every Thread,” has been hired so far by at least 10 mostly elementary and middle schools — six in the high-poverty Brooklyn district where Josephine Van Ess used to work as deputy superintendent.

It has collected $221,750 in Department of Education funds — all but $5,000 paid out in the past five months, records show. 

Van Ess and Sanchez charge schools $16,000 to lead six weekly sessions for boys meant to build self-esteem, and guide them toward personal and career success.

Optional “add-ons” include field trips costing $2,500 and $1,500 each for sessions on topics such as substance abuse and financial literacy.

The program also provides “custom” suits tailored by Sanchez’s primary business, “Garcon Couture.” 

The fitted suits — priced at $650 each — come in bright colors like purple and magenta.

“It’s unacceptable,” a Brooklyn principal said. “We have children in shelters and temporary housing who need basic necessities and everyday clothing  — not pricey pimp suits.”

The DOE refused to explain whether the schools or the students’ families pay for the suits.

Neither are “required to purchase suits to participate,” said spokeswoman Chyann Tull.

“Suit purchases are an optional service that the vendors provide.”

After The Post inquired about the program on Friday, the price list was deleted from the company website.

The City Charter requires that any full-time city employee with an ownership interest in a company doing business with the city either relinquish it or disclose it to the Conflicts of Interest Board.

Banks sent a letter to the COIB on July 10, asking the board to grant Josephine Van Ess, who makes $205,000 a year, a waiver to retain her “imputed ownership interest” in her husband’s company.  He owns 50%.

Businessman Edward Van Ess and his wife Josephine Van Ess, superintendent of Queens South high schools. [Facebook Ed Van Ess]

The Van Ess business “does not conflict with the purposes and interests of the City,” Banks told the COIB.

The chancellor also noted the company is a registered “Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise.” Mayor Adams and Banks have made the hiring of Black- and women-owned vendors a priority.

The COIB granted a waiver on July 31, but set several conditions that bar Josephine Van Ess from any involvement in her husband’s company or in any DOE discussion or decision concerning the company.

The company agreed not to “solicit or do business” with schools in Districts 27, 28, and 29, which she now oversees in southern Queens, but it “seeks to pursue and perform work for all other DOE schools,” the COIB waiver states.

Josephine Van Ess supervised six of the 10 schools that have hired her husband’s company in Brownsville’s District 23 when she worked as a deputy superintendent for nearly three years before Banks promoted her in June 2022.

She has many contacts there.

The current superintendent, Khalek Kirkland, extolled the Modern Day Man program on X this month.

Van Ess was hired by then-District 23 Superintendent Miatheresa Pate, now a chief of school support, who has come under scrutiny for running a side business selling leadership conferences, online courses and books.

Danika Rux, Bank’s deputy chancellor for leadership, also served as a District 23 deputy superintendent.

Rux was promoted in a secret deal to give her husband a DOE managerial job in exchange for dropping his work for the DOE as a vendor.

“It’s a family enterprise — the family and friends of Banks and Adams,” the Brooklyn principal charged.

Chancellor David Banks, center, endorses vendors Edward Van Ess, at left, and Ilbert Sanchezinstagram @themoderndaymannyc

Two principals in District 23 — Marica Myrie at Mott Hall IV middle school, and Arabelle Pembroke, at Riverdale Avenue Middle School — gave video “testimonials” praising “The Modern Day Man” on its website.

After The Post’s inquiries, this price list was deleted from the Modern Day Man website.

City rules forbid employees to let vendors use their NYC titles in promotional material without written permission by their agencies.

Penalties include fines of up to $25,000 per violation.

The DOE would not say whether it granted the two principals permission.

The principals did not answer questions.

The DOE had no comment on criticism of the COIB waiver, but defended The Modern Day Man.

“The vendor’s programming is built on the foundation of providing mentorship and a safe space for the young people involved, not in providing custom suits,” Tull said.

Edward and Josephine Van Ess did not return messages.