Rebecca J. Turrentine Ed.D, Board President
Board of Education
Los Angeles County Office of Education
9300 Imperial Highway
Downey, CA 90242
Sent Via E-Mail
RE: Letter and Petition to Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to deny the charter received on appeal for Anahualcalmecac International University Preparatory AKA Semillas Sociedad Civil “Semillas” on October 8, 2013
Dear Board President and Members of the Board of Education,
On September 6, 2013 residents and taxpayers of the community of El Sereno who live and reside near or around the three sites currently used for the Charters Semillas Sociedad Civil - Anauhualcalmemcac University Preparatory High School, AKA “Semillas” wrote a letter and enclosed a petition to voice our concerns and demanded that the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) deny the charter petition received on appeal for Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory. The letter cited low academic performance, failing to comply with the Office of Inspector General, Federal and State tax violations, illegal Café and school cafeteria, health and safety concerns specifically L.A.M.C. zoning and parking violations and most importantly cited the school governance as problematic that has led to financial conflicts of interest by the school administration. Semillas’ lack of transparency and possible misappropriation of funds raises questions as to the ethical behavior of the School Administrators as the school was operating with negative net assets and negative net income which called into question whether the governing board – husband and wife duo is adequately “exercising its fiduciary duty” to oversee and manage the school’s finances.
In a similar case, the husband and wife founders of a San Fernando Valley charter school were sentenced Friday for the misappropriation of more than $200,000 in public funds. This legal case will have major impacts and will affect charter schools statewide and will expose other Charter School operators such as Semillas Administrators:
As in the San Fernando case we believe that a similar conflict of interest exists between the School Administration and Board of Directors including the Executive Director and Principal, a married couple. According to the most recently filed IRS Form 990 – 2010, the married couple has received both a salary and a stipend as Board Members/Trustees of over $261,104. In addition the owner of the properties Tzicatl Development Corporation which leases the buildings to Semillas lists the Executive Director as Mr. Marcos Aguilar who is also “Executive Director of Semillas” and “Non-Voting Member of the Board of Trustees” for Semillas, raising legitimate questions as to the conflict of interest that exists between the two Non Profit Entities.
In conclusion, Semillas has been given several opportunities to provide a quality learning environment to students, yet Semillas has consistently underperformed on academic metrics, Semillas has not respected nor followed Los Angeles zoning requirements and the misuse of Semillas facilities has created an unsafe environment for its students and its local residences. We support the concept of Charter schools to help raise student achievement; however Semillas raises some serious concerns over fraud, waste and abuse of public funds.
As residents and taxpayers of the community of El Sereno we demand that the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) deny the charter petition received on appeal for Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory and stop the waste and abuse of tax dollars on this failing school.
Cc: Board of Supervisors, County of Los Angeles
Board of Education Members, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Arturo Delgado, Ed.D., Superintendent, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Executive Cabinet, Los Angeles County Office of Education
California Department of Education, Charter Schools Division
California Department of Education, State Superintendent of Public Education
Stefan Huh, Director Charter Schools Program
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement
Inspector General Kathleen Tighe, U.S. Department of Education, OIG
California State Senator, Ed Hernandez
California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, California State Assembly
California Congressman, Javier Becerra
United States Senator for California, Diane Feinstein
City of Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer
Los Angeles City Controller, Ron Galperin
John E. Deasy, Superintendent Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles County District Attorney, Dana Aratani