LAUSD audit finds school board candidate's charter operated in the red

A Los Angeles Unified audit found financial issues with one of the charters overseen by a board candidate in the East Los Angeles school district.
A Los Angeles Unified audit found financial issues with one of the charters overseen by a board candidate in the East Los Angeles school district. 401(K) 2012/Flickr

A Los Angeles Unified school board member sought to withhold an inspector general audit finding Partnership to Uplift Communities' Lakeview Charter Academy was insolvent for nine years.

A charter spokeswoman said Wednesday that the charter recovered and is operating in the black this year.

The inspector general's finding comes as Ref Rodriguez, the charter organization's co-founder and corporate treasurer, continues his challenge of LAUSD school board incumbent Bennett Kayser in East Los Angeles District 5. 

The inspector general sent the audit last week to school board members and PUC administrators. But the report was sealed at the request of a board member based on attorney-client privilege – an action that L.A. Unified board members and the superintendent can take, but which they rarely invoke for routine charter audits.

Media outlets, including KPCC, filed requests for release of the audit.

More than one school board member would have Rodriguez as an ally if he ousts Kayser in their general election runoff on May 19. Although no one has publicly admitted to sealing the record ahead of the election, it remained unavailable until KPCC obtained the report Wednesday.

The audit focuses on the bookkeeping of one of PUC's 16 schools from July 2011 to June 2013. It noted numerous fiscal "deficiencies," including poorly documented expenditures, failure to meet minimum reserves and questionable oversight by the parent organization.

Jacqueline Elliot, PUC co-founder and CEO, agreed with many of the audit's findings. But she said Lakeview was a new charter campus and needed the financial support of the parent organization as it grew.

"We have a projection that their fund balance will continue to be healthy and continue to grow," Elliot said.

She said she welcomed the auditors' review. "We wanted to hear what they had to say," Elliot said, including their references to the need for "best practices."

Michael Soneff, Rodriguez's school board campaign manager, said the audit is being used against Rodriguez for political reasons.

"It is a shame that a helpful, routine report and an excellent school in good financial shape are being manipulated by those trying to influence the election,"  he said.

blog comments powered by Disqus