Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's Be Trite and At Least Think About Following the Money

Sometimes the story is what's not in the story. Take Andrea Schoellkopf's piece in today's Journal, "Funds For 19 Charters Put On Hold". The non-story is that APS has finally decided to actually require charter schools to have spending plans for capital outlay money (i.e. pork) before the District will release the money.

In keeping with a good non-story, there is no conflict here. Lisa Grover of the National Coalition for Charter Schools says:
"They just want to know how the money is being spent."

Allen Marks, principal at South Valley Academy charter says:

"I think they're (APS officials) trying to be even-handed."

Love certainly abounds now between charters and APS. Heck, even Robert Lucero's obligatory quote doesn't include some bombastic ultimatum or dire overreaction. So where's the story? Why was this non-story even in the paper?

Okay, those are rhetorical questions because you readers are way too smart to have not figured it out even before they were asked. Still, just to make sure we're all on the same page and level of cynicism here:

  1. Exactly why didn't the District require such spending plans before?
  2. What amazing sorts of tomfoolery, smoke, mirrors and educational mumbo-jumbo have charter schools spent capital outlay money on in previous years?
A very quick count shows thirty-six Albuquerque area charter schools (.pdf), with four more opening in Fall 2008. As someone who knows a tiny bit about how charters operate (especially those in their start-up infancy) and a tiny bit about the capital outlay process, I'd bet capital outlay dollars to donuts that there are howlingly funny examples out there of how taxpayer money has been spent at charters. Beyond falling on the floor funny. Falling through the floor, through the crawlspace, and well into the core of the Earth funny. Funny.

Boy I sure would like to read a story listing some of the more outlandish expenditures. That'd be a real story, wouldn't it? And you can just tell it's sitting there like a plump toad slightly beneath the surface of this non-story. I say we poke that toad with a stick.

Speaking of which, I'm as hopeful about The New Mexico Independent as anybody.

Have a good weekend, folks.


Anonymous said...

Well, just off the top of my head, I seem to recall a story from a few years back about a charter school organizer/principal paying himself $100,000 plus, and using school resources and students to build a backyard shed.

michelle meaders said...

If a charter school opts to go with the State education dept. instead of APS, does this apply?

APS has a lot of nerve, condidering what a mess their own accounting for capital outlay is. For instance, do we know what they spent on their own building?

Wasn't their head accountant forced out because she complained about how it was being run, and they haven't been able to hire another one since?

Anonymous said...

Danny Moon was the Principal at the charter/vocational school who hired a couple of my former students to totally disable the security guard at the school. Why? Because the guard had figured out he was 'ghosting" students. If he kept them on the rolls, after they had left or dropped out, he still collected from the state. The poor guard then goes to Gil Lovato, to turn in the crooked principal. Gil lets Danny in on it and the rest is history. The kids got community service or probation, Danny had to leave the school, but was never prosecuted in a court of law over all the money he stole, and the poor security person got a lifetime disability.
And all these years later, APS is FINALLY asking for a plan?

jscotkey said...

In doing a little research this morning I came across this line...

"Maybe the better question, in communities everywhere, is: 'Who can be our Danny Moon?'"

Here's the article (from Reader's Digest)

I know there must be at least two sides to the Moon case, but the whole "savior" element in the RD article goes beyond irony to...something. Something worth continuing to research, I guess.

Joseph Lopez said...

Well said, as the victim of Moon's nearly successful conspiracy to get me killed. I am glad someone else knows how things actually went.

I told the Charter School Board, I told every school administrator, I told every teacher who would listen that Moon was illegally overcounting students, and I told a duly appointed police officer in charge of school crimes too, but he also ignored it. I even told the DA's office, and requested truancy citations. That is when the retaliation by Moon really started in earnest.

It is old news by now, but news that has not been PRINTED in the regular media, only in blogs and in secret reports kept by ACVHS and APS. I can't even get all the paperwork on the events that disabled me, and the insurance company/Risk Management for NMPSIA are keeping me from getting long term disability when worker's comp runs out, they are STILL taking Danny's lies as Gospel after he was written up for stealing all that money (over a million dollars each year Moon was in charge at ACVHS)from APS/Education Fund!

And he was already getting 175k in salary, but felt he had to STEAL over a million MORE per year by overcounting students and siphoning the funds into his personal accounts or accounts of his family members, or just buying glass block and building materials that his maintenance people took to his personal home and used to build there. The shed was minor as compared to the work time and materials Danny paid for with school funds that went into building his house.

I hope the DA actually prosecutes him, the case is good and there is plenty of evidence. Three 2nd degree felonies, he should see some time in prison if convicted.