Last year, Alonso-Poch also created a management company to run the school for about $90,000 a year. This contract was never opened up to competitive bidding, auditors said — though a governing board member told parents at a meeting last fall that there was a bidding procedure.
Alonso-Poch’s son also manages insurance and benefits for the school’s employees, the audit found.
Though Arts & Minds has achieved academic success — the school received an A-rating from the state last year — it has also been mired in financial problems. Auditors said the school would have faced potential closure in each of the four past years were it not for $1.9 million the school received from Alonso-Poch in donations or forgiven rent.
The school district also temporarily withheld funds from Arts & Minds last year after finding that the school was not providing required services for special-needs students. And district officials also accused the school of charging illegal fees to students to attend many classes.
The audit was sparked by complaints from a group of parents who feared the school’s board was ignoring financial problems and surrendering too much control to Alonso-Poch, who is not a member of the school’s board. The parents also complained that the school did not have enough textbooks for the students, and the school did not have enough teachers for several weeks last year.
Though some of the complaining parents were pleased that the audit confirmed their worries, some said they were frustrated that the school district can’t take stronger action to change the climate at the school.
“So long as the board is allowed to stay, it will be business as usual at that school,” said Carlos Hernandez, whose daughter attended Arts & Minds before transferring last year. “The ones who will end up paying the price are the children and parents.”