According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, a wealthy Beverly Hills couple with ties to the Republican Party are raking in millions running failing charter schools that don’t even supply students with books.
Speaking with Denise Kawamoto, who accepted a job at Today’s Fresh Start Charter School in South L.A, the teacher described massive turnover at the schools where teachers are not given the basic necessities to teach children — many of them minority students — while the owners of the charter school dodge regulators.
The Times reports that the schools are run by Clark and Jeanette Parker of Beverly Hills, who once told the State Board of Education that they have “devoted all of our lives to the education of other people’s children, committed many millions of our own dollars directly to that particular purpose, with no gain directly to us.”
An investigation shows that to be not true.
“The couple have, in fact, made millions from their charter schools. Financial records show the Parkers’ schools have paid more than $800,000 annually to rent buildings the couple own. The charters have contracted out services to the Parkers’ nonprofits and companies and paid Clark Parker generous consulting fees, all with taxpayer money,” the Times reports.
As for how the Parkers have managed to stay one step ahead of California state regulators, the report notes the couple have been very generous with campaign donations to officials who should be scrutinizing their business practices.
“Like other charter operators who have run into trouble, the Parkers were able to appeal to the state Board of Education when they faced the threat of being shut down; the panel is known for overturning local regulators’ decisions,” the report explains. “A Times analysis of the state board’s decisions has found that, over the last five years, it has sided with charters over local school districts or county offices of education in about 70% of appeals.”
As for the couple, they have money flowing in from all directions.
“The Parkers live in a 7,700-square-foot home in Beverly Hills with an estimated value of about $15.3 million,” The Times reports. “Jeanette Parker is a past president of the Beverly Hills Republican Club, author of the self-published book ‘Will You Marry Me? Jesus Christ Proposes to You!’… As superintendent of Today’s Fresh Start, she is paid an annual salary of about $285,000.”
“Clark, is a businessman, a vendor of security devices and a real estate developer …[who] sits on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District,” the Times adds.
The report goes on to state that the couple have been under fire since 2011 when state officials accused them of “serious, chronic, and systemic program violations.”
“Two state audits of the day-care program accused the nonprofit of falsifying records, padding attendance figures and spending public money to pay above-market rent for properties owned by the Parkers,” the report states. “The organization, which the state said Clark Parker oversaw, had also used public funds to reimburse itself for parking tickets, Clark Parker’s personal property taxes and vehicle registration fees for his Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz — costs that state investigators determined had nothing to do with child care.”
You can read more here.