COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A state investigation into a Colorado Springs charter school found evidence of “inappropriate conduct” amongst board members when it comes to the school’s finances. However, the report, obtained by 13 Investigates, says there was no criminal wrongdoing.
In April, the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) and Colorado Attorney General’s Office issued a breach of contract and a cease and desist demand to the Colorado Springs Charter Academy’s Board of Directors (CSCA). The letter also notified the board that CSI would investigate multiple breaches of contract claims.
CSI asserted that CSCA’s board of directors allowed internal fraud controls to collapse, budgetary controls to collapse, and failed to follow the board's own government policies.
In their findings, CSI investigators say specific individuals at CSCA with personal relationships with specific board members received substantially larger mid-year raises than did other staff.
However, the report determined most of the larger raises could possibly be explained by additional duties; that the full CSCA board took part in these decisions formally or informally, and that the board chair was directly involved in decisions about facilities expenditures on the vacant residence.
“CSI has concluded that the allegations that would have raised this issue to the level of a criminal referral were unfounded. The records not only do not support any inference of criminal wrongdoing but also (in our view) dispositively establish the absence of criminal wrongdoing,” CSI investigators told CSCA's attorney and board.
As for the board's failure to follow their own governmental policies, CSI found the Charter School's actions do not rise to the level of a breach of contract with the state. However, CSCA "demonstrated issues in governance practices that need to be resolved and could lead to further notices of concern if not resolved."
"All of the criminal allegations, the inappropriate relationships, and favoritism there those are unsubstantiated absolutely," Dustin Sparks, CSCA's attorney, told 13 Investigates. "They were acting as a whole in public meetings taking votes to protect the best interest of the school."
Due to their findings, CSI is lifting its demand that the CSCA Board of Directors keep from appointing new members. However, CSI insists that individual board members recuse from voting on any appointments that would raise the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Given the resolutions above, CSI lifts its demand that the CSCA board abstain from appointing new members. CSI insists, however, that individual board members recuse from voting on any appointments that would raise the appearance of a conflict of interest.