Delaware auditor finds irregularities at two charters, clears two others

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    Two Delaware charter schools made questionable purchases with state funds, according to a new report by the state auditor’s office.

    Kuumba Academy Charter School and Delaware College Preparatory Academy–both located in Wilmington–failed to properly document various expenditures, calling into question their legitimacy, according to the auditor’s report.

    The auditor’s office also cleared two other charters of wrongdoing. The report found that MOT Charter School in Middletown, Delaware and Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington could account for all purchases and that those purchases were made for school purposes.

    The four schools were under investigation because of unusual activity on their state purchase cards (known colloquially as “p-cards”).

    Delaware College Preparatory Academy engaged in what the report called “unusual direct reimbursement activity for the Board President and Executive Director.”

    The board president received roughly $11,200 in reimbursements from the school in fiscal year 2014. The board president told the auditors she had temporarily allowed the school to use her personal credit card in summer 2011 in order to make school purchases. but produced only a self-written letter as proof.

    The executive director, meanwhile, drew a little over $18,000 in reimbursements from school coffers. When the auditor’s office vetted those reimbursements, it found about $11,700 that lacked proper documentation.

    Kuumba Academy paid consultant fees to its head of school, assistant head of school, and custodian on top of their respective salaries. The school did not open any of the three contracts to competitive bidding; which is a requirement for contracts of over $2,000 with state employees.

    The head of school and assistant head of school received $7,500 and $2,000 respectively for services provided after school and during the summer. The custodian, meanwhile, received $37,500 from the school, in addition to a $31,803 base salary.

    Kuumba’s board president defended the school’s integrity in a statement.

    “Kuumba Academy has been evaluated as compliant and fiscally responsible throughout the school’s 15 year operating history by an independent auditor and through monthly reviews conducted via the First State Financial System,” wrote board president Joan Coker. “At no time have either the state auditor, the schools independent auditing firm Maillie LLP nor the Department of Education’s financial framework indicated areas of non-compliance.”

    Coker said the school was reviewing the auditor’s most recent report and would take action “if warranted.”

    Delaware College Preparatory Academy did not respond to requests for comment.

     In late June, the auditor’s office released a report on another Delaware charter school, in which it claimed the school’s former leader spent more than a $100,000 in school money on personal purchases.

    “We seem to have a significant amount of information coming into the office regarding charter schools,” said Kathleen Davies, the state’s Chief Administrative Auditor. “There is an increase in our investigative work involving charter schools.”

    A full copy of the auditor’s report can be found here.

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