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St. Andrews

Troubled Oakland school padded enrollment, district finds

A controversial West Oakland private school, now reportedly drawing FBI scrutiny, has padded its roster sheets with public school students, according to an Oakland Unified School District investigation.

The district's inquiry aims to determine whether leaders at St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and private school received federal funds based on inflated enrollment numbers, as reported by California Watch and CBS 5. The school, run by pastor Robert Lacy and his family, has faced criticism for requiring students to solicit donations on the street and for the alleged physical abuse of students, which the school denies.

After Oakland Unified demanded proof of the 195 students St. Andrew claimed to have, the school provided a roster listing 169 students for the 2011-12 school year. But the district's general counsel told board members in a memo this week that 59 of those students were enrolled at least part of the year in public schools. Thirty-six of them, according to the district's findings, attended public schools the entire year.

 

The district sent its findings to the FBI, whose agents have visited district staff to ask about St. Andrew, according to district spokesman Troy Flint. The FBI would not confirm or deny an investigation.

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Oakland church school solicitation prompts BART policy change

Update, July 20, 2012: This story updates with information about when the new BART policy changes would take effect.

BART leaders have decided to alter the transit agency's free speech-related policy after discovering that a private school and church in West Oakland used unaccompanied children, some as young as 7 years old, to solicit funds at stations after school and at night.

Under the new rules, which could take effect Aug. 1, children are required to be accompanied by an adult and are not allowed to solicit funds during school hours or after dark. Agency leaders are also considering requiring solicitors to stay in a specified location on BART property or behind a table, a policy change that concerns some free speech advocates. BART spokesman Jim Allison said other changes could still be made.  

The St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and its founder and pastor, Robert Lacy, have a history of financial and legal troubles. A recent California Watch investigation found that the church’s school has continually overbilled taxpayers for government assistance by inflating enrollment numbers. Former students complain of physical and emotional abuse, and parents say the school forced their children to solicit funds at BART stations, sometimes late into the night. Lacy could not be reached for comment.

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CBS 5: Students of Oakland school keep panhandling as scrutiny grows

OAKLAND (CBS 5) — The state is taking action against the Oakland Unified School District, because of a private religious school that has been taking taxpayer money, while students are sent out to panhandle.

A joint CBS 5 and California Watch investigation found Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist School inflating attendance numbers to get federal funds. Meanwhile, students are still out on the streets asking for money.

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