Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Financial Red Flags at Celerity Charter School Group in Los Angeles

Well, staying on the education beat here, check out the Los Angeles Times, "Inside Celerity charter school network, questionable spending and potential conflicts of interest abound":
By her own account, Vielka McFarlane was an immigrant success story. She had escaped a childhood of poverty in Panama, made her way to Los Angeles and founded a nonprofit network of publicly funded charter schools called the Celerity Educational Group.

In 2013, she earned $471,842, about 35% more than Michelle King, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, makes today.

McFarlane was prospering, and it showed. She wore Armani suits, ate at expensive restaurants and used a black car service.

Financial records obtained by The Times show that, as Celerity’s CEO, she paid for many of these expenses with a credit card belonging to her charter schools, which receive the bulk of their funding from the state.

It could not be determined whether McFarlane, 54, ever reimbursed the charter schools for her credit card purchases. Neither she nor a lawyer hired by Celerity responded to requests for comment about the transactions.

At a time when charter school advocates are determined to increase the number of such schools in L.A., the story of McFarlane and the Celerity schools offers a case study of the growing difficulty of regulating them. The task of spotting and stamping out risky financial practices in charters largely falls to the school district’s charter schools division, which employs about a dozen people dedicated to monitoring the schools’ fiscal health.

But as the number of L.A. charter schools has grown to more than 220, enrolling about 111,000 students, oversight has become a challenge for district officials, who are at once competitors and regulators...
Well, nice work if you can get it. And a "black car service"? Must be nice.

And I'm a fan of charters too!

Put me down for more regulation, though. Can't trust those Panamanian immigrants, it turns out.

Keep reading.