As part of its wide-ranging investigation into the financial practices of the state’s booming charter sector, the Arizona Republic identified numerous instances where board members and family members were self-dealing.
Here are a few prime examples.
Of those highlighted here, this is the most startling:
$42.3 million for curriculum
Primavera Technical Learning Center
City:Chandler | Grades: 6-12 | 2011 enrollment: 3,160
Number of schools: 2 | Year opened: 2001
Payments: Damien Creamer and Vanessa Baviera Rudilla run one of the largest online schools in Arizona, and the non-profit school contracts with a for-profit company, American Virtual Academy, for its curriculum and software. Creamer and Rudilla are officers of the non-profit and earn salaries. American Virtual Academy also is owned by Creamer and Rudilla. From fiscal 2007 to 2011, the non-profit paid $42.3 million to American Virtual Academy. The non-profit is exempt from state purchasing laws. Damien Creamer said when the school started it purchased software and curriculum from a number of vendors. The curriculum was mediocre and the software burdensome and unwieldy, he said. As American Virtual Academy’s products developed, the school began using its services. Because the company is the only one to offer such an online platform, getting price quotes from other vendors is not an option, he said. Creamer said he makes sure the non-profit school and his for-profit company operate at arm’s length.