Posted: Friday, August 19, 2016 – 12:03 PM
Alleging fiscal mismanagement, Los Angeles Unified School District staff will ask the Board of Education next week to slap a “notice of violations” on El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills — the first step toward revoking its charter, it was reported today.
The Board of Education will consider at a public hearing at 1 p.m. Tuesday whether to issue the notice based on the school’s “failure to meet generally accepted accounting principles and engagement in fiscal mismanagement, violations of law and breach of its charter,” according to LAUSD board documents cited by the Los Angeles Daily News.
District officials say that if the notice is issued, El Camino Real — a charter since 2011 — would have until Sept. 23 to remedy all the alleged violations. the newspaper reported. If it fails to do so, the board could issue a “notice of intent to revoke” the school’s charter, then hold another public hearing. If the board approves revocation, the school would be forced to cease operations pending an appeal.
A district staff report on the alleged violations says the school has been given “multiple opportunities” to review and improve its policies but “has failed to implement such improvements,” leading to an inability to determine how public funds are being used and identify specific instances of their use for personal expenses,” the Daily News reported.
An El Camino spokesman quoted by the Daily News argued that LAUSD staff is “purposely misleading and inflaming” the board for the sole purpose of harming the school’s “outstanding reputation.” The school will address each of these “arbitrary and specious allegations” at Tuesday’s board hearing, spokesman Mike MeCey said.
Charter schools are independently operated and exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses. But the authorizing school district retains an oversight role and can revoke a charter or decline to renew it.
A Daily News investigation published in May 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, such as first-class airfare and luxury hotel rooms.
Fehte’s charges also included more than $6,700 for a four-day trip to the Michigan headquarters of Herman Miller, the designer furniture manufacturer, for himself and two other school employees when there was a showroom 25 miles from the school, according to the Daily News. Fehte has denied doing anything wrong.
The LAUSD board issued a warning to the school and its governing board known as a “notice to cure” in October 2015 over concerns of credit card use and check disbursement. The preliminary report of that probe is still pending.