Demetrio Perez Jr. Leading Miami-Dade School Board Race, Despite Not Running

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“An educated people will always be strong and free.  The alternative is ignorance.  Ignorance will ultimately destroy us.” Jose Marti. 

The 2012 Miami-Dade School Board race promises to be a close one. Not for the board members, mind you, but for the for-profit charter schools competing to buy votes to open more of their schools.

Although school board incumbents Renier Diaz de la Portilla, Martin Karp, and Lawrence Feldman do not have opponents, they each have for-profit charter school money, and the funding race is heating up in the districts, with the Demetrio Perez Jr.-operated Lincoln-Marti charter schools holding a strong lead.

Perez Jr., as many know, is a former vice chairman of the Miami-Dade School Board. In “Florida charter schools: big money, little oversight,” the Miami-Herald highlighted the Perez charter family shenanigans, as part of their investigative series (appropriately called Cashing In On Kids) into the state’s legislatively-approved graft.

To date,  Jonathan Hage’s Charter Schools USA has only donated to one Miami-Dade School Board candidate thus far, when District 5’s Diaz de la Portilla picked up $500.00 (pdf, “Campaign Treasurer’s Report“) from them in August 30, 2011. So it looks like the Academica/Lincoln-Marti charter school school board funding race is the one to watch closely.

Here are the latest details.


Academica-affiliated members have donated to two of the three incumbents.

Former legislative and founder of the Academica-run Ben Gamla charter schools, Peter Deutsche, and his wife Lori kicked off the campaign by giving District 3’s Martin Karp $500.00 each on September 8, 2010.

On July 11, 2011, Academica’s Fernando Zulueta and wife Maggie Fresen each slid $500.00 to Diaz de la Portilla.


The August 27, 2010 Donations to Martin Karp:

     Demetrio’s D.P. Real Estate Holdings, $500.00

     The Perez family-operated  Yumuri Farms LLC, $500.00

     The Perez family-operated Libre LLC, $500.00

     Demetrio J. Perez & Associates’ Berkshire School LLC , $500.00

The February 8, 2011 Pump-out to Renier Diaz de la Portilla:

     Lincoln-Marti Financial Service, $500.00

     D.P Real Estate Holdings, $500.00

     Yumuri Farms LLC, $500.00

     Libre LLC, $500

     Demetrio J. Perez & Associates’ Berkshire School LLC , $500.00

Demetrio Perez revealed himself with a $500.00 gift, but it’s impossible to determine whether this Demetrio is indeed the former Miami-Dade school board member, Demetrio Perez Jr., or his son, Demetrio J

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. Perez, who also works with the for-profit charter school company.

The September 12, 2011 Under-the-Table-Slide to Lawrence Feldman in District 9:

     D.P. Real Estate. $500.00

     Yumuri Farms LLC, $500.00

     BerkshireLLC, $500.00

     Libre LLC, $500.00

Which charter school management company will win out in 2012, when these candidates win reelection? Probably each and every one, to some extent or another. Even though Fernando Zulueta may still remain the Paris Hilton of charter schools in Miami-Dade County, the Perez family is playing to win this round, promising to expand their current operations in Hialeah, Florida City, and Miami. They have the money to buy corporate freedom.

It’s time to poke them out of their $9.78 per square-foot, dark holes and expose them with a little sunshine in the Sunshine State.

(This is Doug Martin’s fifth article peeking into the financial records of for-profit charter school operators in Florida. You can find his articles on Mavericks in Education Florida here, here, and here, and his report on Academica at this link.)

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