Morning Report: A3 Charter School Scandal Extends Across State Lines | Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: A3 Charter School Scandal Extends Across State Lines

A3 charter school
During a press conference on May 29, 2019, District Attorney Summer Stephan discusses the indictment of several people tied to an alleged scam involving the charter school management company A3. / Image courtesy of NBC San Diego

A pair of online charter school execs pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges that they led a conspiracy to defraud the public. The A3 scandal was one of the largest public corruption cases related to education in the state’s history.

Turns out, the execs invested taxpayer funds in charter school operations in other states.

Will Huntsberry reports that the court-appointed receiver who’s been in control of A3’s assets since prosecutors brought criminal charges in 2019 is trying to find whatever money is still circulating in the United States and get it back. 

The receiver laid out some of the details in new lawsuits, one of which alleges that millions flowed to a for-profit company in Texas co-founded by the superintendent of El Paso schools.

The cases point to a bigger problem here.

“As a result of the A3 charter scandal,” Huntsberry writes, “California put a moratorium on new virtual charters, as well as others that don’t operate out of traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms. But most of the loopholes that allowed vast sums of money to easily flow into personal bank accounts and out-of-state investments remain in place.”

Politics Is Water (Get Used to It)

Despite an increase in San Diego’s population, we consume a lot less water now than we did decades ago. Yet the water we do have is getting more expensive. As Mackenzie Elmer explained last week, our more efficient use of water is costing us. 

This week in the Politics Report, Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis followed her story up with more about how the city of San Diego pushed back last week against rising rates at a meeting of the San Diego County Water Authority. The city has 10 representatives on the Water Authority board and they seem to be agitating more than usual. Not all of them, though — one of them, former San Diego City Councilman Jim Madaffer, is a little “frustrated” about the tension and thinks the city should focus on itself a bit more.

How about that for juicy drama? A little tension about, and amendment of, the long-term financial plans at a regional wholesaler of water? HBO Max? Disney+? Come on! You can get this kind of nailbiting stuff in the Politics Report each week for just the cost of our basic membership.

Exaggerated self-promotion aside: It’s not just exciting drama about long-term financial plans at a regional wholesaler of water. It’s our lives. It’s the cost of living here and it’s going up. We have lots of water security here amidst what could be the beginning of a historic drought. But it’s not cheap.

Oh there’s more: On this week’s podcast, Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts broke down why water rates are expected to swell in the coming years. They also talk about another basic need — housing — and what a conflict of interest case reveals about quasi-governmental agencies providing public services. 

You can listen to the podcast here.

Also of note: Keatts and Lewis wrote about some tensions among local Republicans as party leaders and activists gathered for their statewide convention this weekend in downtown San Diego to consider the future of their party. 

The LA Times covered the convention. Participants were proud of the recall campaign and while they bemoaned some shenanigans, they dismissed any conspiracy theories that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s win was not legitimate.

On the eve of the gathering, U-T columnist Michael Smolens argued that the GOP should look backwards to several 2020 ballot measures for guidance on how to broaden its appeal. U-T columnist Charles Clark also writes that Republicans have to decide whether the hustle for dollars after the recall (to investigate “voter fraud”) is more important than creating a party that can actually win statewide office.

Elsewhere in the Empire

  • Sworn testimony by a developer reveals what the San Diego City Council wasn’t told about the 101 Ash St. deal. (Union-Tribune)
  • As Otay Mesa explodes with new warehouses, plans are taking shape for 10,000 units of new housing. Residents in industrial areas tend to suffer from noise and poor air quality and one environmental lawyer wondered whether officials weren’t building a company town from scratch. (Union-Tribune) 
  • The larger NAACP appointed an administrator to oversee the San Diego branch of the historic civil-rights organization. The Union-Tribune wrote that it’s unclear why they’ve done this but hinted it was because of the local branch breaking with national on major policy issues, like the appointment of former San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten as deputy secretary of education.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and edited by Scott Lewis. 

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