By Tim Hunt
Charter school leaders face District Attorney's investigationUploaded: Jun 20, 2017
The Livermore Valley Charter schools formally moved to close up shop this month after its board declared bankruptcy and prepared to go out of business.
Meanwhile, we learned that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into the financial dealings of senior leaders of the charter school organization. The investigation came to light after the Alameda County Office of Education formally refused a Freedom of Information request from a former charter school parent.
She wrote in a comment below, "I am one of several former parents of the Livermore Charters that have been seeking for truth and accountability, which was the purpose to my public records request."
The education dept.’s spokeswoman, Autumn King, wrote parent Lu See Kwik in an email, “The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) has received formal notification from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office that they have opened an investigation into the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC) and those associated with it based on the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team extraordinary audit report. As such, all evidence that ACOE obtained during the course of our preliminary investigation into TVLC matters are privileged under CA Evidence Code section 1040. ACOE will not be able to fulfill your request below.”
Contrary to what you may be reading coming out of Washington, D.C., prosecutors rarely confirm an investigation until they have completed it and are ready to file charges or drop the matter—that’s particularly true in potential white-collar violations.
The situation with the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, because of the deep audit commissioned by the county education office after numerous requests by the Livermore school district, was different because of the formal request.
The D.A.’s investigation will probe the audit conducted by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team. That audit found numerous instances where former CEO Bill Batchelor and other managers may have violated the law. The report drew no legal conclusions, but pointed out numerous instances of conflict of interest relationships, diverted, co-mingled or diverted public funds including tax-exempt bonds of more than $67 million. These were couched careful language such as “may have…”
In published reports, Batchelor, through a spokesman, denied any wrongdoing.
The Livermore school district, which formally oversees the publicly funded charter schools, has raised questions about finances since 2012. The audit seemed to confirm those concerns.
The audit runs more than 70 pages not included the detailed appendix.
The ball now is in the District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s court to have her investigators and dig into what the audit turned up. Reading through the report, there appears to be plenty of fodder for her team.
NOTE: This corrects first blog that incorrectly stated that Lu See Kwik was affiliated with the charter organization. She is a former charter school parent.