Gentilly charter school may have misappropriated public funds

Gentilly charter school may have misappropriated public funds

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - An Orleans Parish School Board-authorized charter school in Gentilly possibly misappropriated public funds, according to a letter from the school board.

Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr., Ph.D sent a letter on June 27 alleging three different incidents in which Mary D. Coghill Charter School, operated by Better Choice Foundation, did not properly account for money, and possibly violated the Louisiana constitution on a “Teacher Appreciation Day.”

The school board said:

Checks were issued to a board member with insufficient supporting documentation was issued on February 8, 2019 and payable to Dr. Eric Jones in the amount of $100 as reimbursement for parking. The only documentation provided was a check request form and a receipt for $28.00 was issued on March 29, 2019 and payable to Dr. Eric Jones in the amount of $500 as payment for employee recognition. The only documentation provided was a check request, but no receipts were provided.

Board Agenda for Better Choice Foundation’s June 25, 2019 board meeting includes an item ratifying the purchase of three Apple MacBook laptop computers a. Email correspondence between the Board Treasurer, Althenetia Franklin, and Coghill School Principal, Pamela Marshall, indicate that four computers were purchased using Title IVA SSAE funds for a total cost of $5892.21.

At the time the computers were purchased, there was no board approval, which seems to be required for purchases in excess of $5,000. Additionally, it is not clear what the ultimate use of the computers will be to ensure that the purchase falls in line with use of Title funds.

Finally, a Teacher Appreciation Day cost of $8,709.64, “which could arguably be an unconstitutional donation in violation of the Louisiana Constitution.”

Expenses include more than $2,000 for gift cards, almost $3,000 toward catering and approximately $260 for alcohol purchases.

The school board forwarded the information to the Orleans Parish District Attorney.

FOX 8 requested comment from the school and department of education.

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