Canoga school accused of mismanaging millions

CANOGA PARK, Calif. Officials say as much as $2.7 million is missing or has been misappropriated.

Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said Tuesday he has sent a letter admonishing the board of directors of New Academy Canoga Park Elementary (Charter) School for its lack of fiscal controls and oversight. He has also directed LAUSD staff to schedule a public hearing requesting the Los Angeles Board of Education issue the school a Notice of Violations pursuant to the state education code.

A recent audit by the Office of the Inspector General found evidence of fraud on the part of the school's former principal over the course of several years that resulted in the loss and misappropriation of $1.7 million of public funds. The audit also noted an additional $1 million in questionable costs between July, 2007 and November, 2009.

"I am deeply concerned that taxpayer dollars meant for the education of our students were used for other purposes by the former principal and that fraud was committed to cover up these uses," said Superintendent Cortines. "Any amount of fiscal mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds is problematic. Whether it's one dollar or $2.7 million, it is a serious violation of the public trust and neither I nor the Los Angeles Board of Education will tolerate it.

"The misappropriated and unaccounted public funds of $2.7 million are egregious. As a result of this mismanagement, NACP students have been inexcusably deprived of funds that were designated solely to further their education," Cortines continued.

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