State sues local charter school

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News
Jan. 25, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Problems continue to mount for one local charter school.

Hope Academy, headquartered in the old DeLasalle building at 17th and The Paseo with another location in the Sheffield neighborhood at 10th Street and Newton Avenue, has now been sued by the state for misappropriating roughly $3.7 million in state money. According to court documents, Attorney General Chris Koster, the State Board of Education, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education [DESE] filed suit late last week against the now closed Kansas City Charter School for refusing to return $3.7 million in overpaid funds to DESE.

The suit claims that staff at Hope Academy falsified attendance records to DESE in order to secure more money for the failing school that resulted in an over payment of $4.4 million. To date, DESE has recouped roughly $600,000 before the school closed its doors in June of 2014. The suit alleges the school had money left in its bank account in July of 2014, but has yet to return and of that money to DESE.

“Hope Academy failed to live up to its promises in educating the children in its school,” Koster said. “Now, Hope Academy continues to fail the children of the Kansas City Public School District by refusing to return funds earmarked for students in Kansas City.”

Koster’s lawsuit accuses Hope Academy and its former employees of failing to return state education funds, fraudulently misrepresenting attendance figures, and converting public funds. The suit asks the court to order Hope Academy and its former employees to return the $3.7 million public funds to DESE for distribution in Kansas City, and for an accounting of where the missing funds went.

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