Call it a day late and a dollar short, but at the August 2 meeting of the state charter school commission members raised questions about what little info they have about the financial situation of Woodland Prep charter in Washington County and their budget numbers.
This questions were initiated by Tommy Ledbetter, a retired high school principal from Madison County. He questioned the accuracy of many line items in the Woodland budget. He pointed out that from his experience, there is no way the charter budget reflects the real world. Numbers are way too low in Ledbetter’s opinion.
As a result, the commission attorney was directed to ask Woodland Prep’s attorney to provide financial info, such as bank statements, within 10 business days and be prepared to come to the next commission meeting to answer questions in person.
Woodland Prep has never been as transparent as a public body should be. Since charter schools are considered public schools, their boards are obligated to operate in the open. However, as you see from this video of their last meeting, this is not the case. Even though their treasurer did not attend the meeting, they still approved their financials with no discussion.
They also approved invoices from their public relations person in Mobile, Jon Gray. Again, no discussion and no one in the audience had any clue how much they are paying him. (And since there is no school, why do they need a public relations firm? But I digress.)
I am glad the charter commission is showing some concern about Woodland Prep. But where have they been? Why didn’t they ask questions on June 7 when they granted Woodland Prep a one-year extension for their opening date? They had the same budget numbers then as they do now.
This discussion came about three hours after the Alabama Education Association announced they have filed suit against Woodland Prep and their management guru, Soner Tarim, for fraud. Which really means they are questioning the charter commission’s lack of due diligence that should have uncovered fraud.
The commission should have latched the barn door before the mule ran away–not afterwards.