A network of California charter schools reportedly stole more than $50 million in taxpayer funds by enrolling 40,000 students in phantom institutions, according to an indictment filed in a San Diego County court last Wednesday. The students had no idea that A3 Education had used their names, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
A3 Education approached small public school districts in California, asking them to sponsor the charter schools in exchange for an oversight fee. None of the thousands of students enrolled ever received any services, claimed prosecutors.
The California Charter Schools Association said it raised concerns about A3 more than a year ago. “To be clear, there is no room for bad actors and irresponsible authorizers in California’s charter public school movement,” said Myrna Castrejón, CCSA’s president and CEO.
The indictment claims A3 and its affiliates invoiced $83 million from 13 charter schools and more than $8 million ended up in executives’ personal bank accounts. A3 Chairman Sean McManus and President Jason Schrock, plus nine others, face a litany of charges, including conspiracy, misappropriation of public funds, paying for student information, and conflict of interest. Authorities could sentence McManus and Schrock to more than 40 years in prison if they’re convicted. —L.E.