WOODLAND HILLS (CNS) — The Los Angeles Board of Education has begun taking steps toward potentially revoking the charter of El Camino Real Charter High School.
Citing a range of alleged management flaws, the board issued a “notice of violations” against the school at its board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
It was approved by a 7-0 vote after Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials accused the school of failing to meet generally accepted accounting principles, fiscal mismanagement, open meetings violations and breach of its charter, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“This is a first step of a multistep process,” Jose Cole-Gutierrez, director of LAUSD’s Charter Schools Division, told the board. He said the issuance of a notice of violations provides the charter school “an opportunity to remedy the concerns noted.”
Attorney Janelle Ruley, who spoke on behalf of the school, called the notice “premature” and “replete with mistakes.” She said El Camino responded fully and in timely fashion to requests for information and policy changes since the board issued a “notice to cure” violations in October 2015. The Notice of Violations feels “like a bait-and-switch sucker punch,” she said.
El Camino, which converted to an independent charter in 2011, has until Sept. 23 to remedy all alleged violations. If it doesn’t the LAUSD board, which authorizes charter schools, could issue a “notice of intent to revoke” the school’s charter.
Cole-Gutierrez told the LAUSD board that there was a lack of “adequate fiscal policies and procedures” at El Camino before and after Jan. 1. Despite updates the school has made to its fiscal procedures and policies this year, he said, “we note several instances of credit card use that’s still problematic.”
A recent L.A. Daily News investigation found that El Camino Executive Director David Fehte had made numerous lavish charges to his school-issued American Express card, including $15,500 at Monty’s Prime Steaks & Seafood in 2014 and 2015, and several personal expenses.
A sampling of 425 credit card expenses made in the last few years by Fehte and four other administrators show “countless expenses were incurred” without adherence to any uniform procedure and without verification of details, according to the LAUSD notice of violations report, the Daily News reported.