The Primavera online charter school in Arizona is rewarding himself handsomely with taxpayers’ money. Will Governor Doug Ducey or the legislature care or will regulate this self-dealing?

The CEO of Primavera, whose multimillion-dollar payments to himself spurred calls for more oversight of Arizona charter schools, received another $1.3 million from the online charter this past school year, records show.

Damian Creamer, the sole owner of the for-profit Primavera, also paid $27.6 million from the school’s state education funding to another company he owns, Strongmind. The payment was for curriculum, enrollment, technical support and other services.

Meanwhile, the school, which reported it had the third-worst dropout rate in Arizona, gave its 95 teachers a 1 percent pay raise last school year.

Primavera disclosed its spending for the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, in an independent audit required by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.

Creamer did not respond to requests for comment.

The audits provide a snapshot of how lightly regulated charter operators use tax dollars. Charter schools are not subject to the same financial or governance oversight as traditional district public schools, and The Republic has found that some operators, like Creamer, have become charter school millionaires by operating the public schools.

After The Republic reported this year that Creamer had paid himself $8.8 million despite operating a school with the state’s third-highest dropout rate, Attorney General Mark Brnovich called for the law to be changed to allow his office to investigate charter schools more broadly.

Creamer has said the $8.8 million payment was for tax purposes but has not provided documents to support that claim.

“When you see public money go to line the pockets of someone who is supposed to help students become a millionaire, I can’t believe it’s not a crime,” Brnovich said at the time.

Since then, a Republican state senator and Gov. Doug Ducey have said they, too, will push to overhaul Arizona’s charter-school laws to require more transparency and compliance with the same procurement and conflict-of-interest laws that govern district schools.

Brnovich has criticized Creamer because the online charter school owner uses education funds to buy services from related businesses he owns or controls. A related-party transaction or self-dealing is illegal for school districts but common among Arizona charter schools.

Basis Charter Schools Inc., for example, pays about $10 million as an annual, no-bid management fee to a company controlled by its founders. American Leadership Academy founder Glenn Way made at least $18.4 million building schools for ALA through no-bid contracts. And state lawmaker Eddie Farnsworth is poised to make at least $11 million by selling his Benjamin Franklin schools to a non-profit company he created.

Brnovich’s office recently obtained a fraud conviction against Daniel K. Hughes, president and CEO of Discovery Creemos Academy in Goodyear, after he abruptly shuttered his charter school in January and defrauding taxpayers of at least $2.5 million by inflating the school’s enrollment.

Primavera still amassing cash

Primavera has accumulated so much money that it has set aside $8.5 million for Creamer in stockholder’s equity, records show. Creamer can take the money anytime.