California Watch: School Alarm http://californiawatch.org/project/school-alarm/feed en Oakland school district mishandled federal money, state finds http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-school-district-mishandled-federal-money-state-finds-18760 <p>The Oakland Unified School District failed to follow federal regulations in doling out taxpayer money to benefit local private schools and must pay some of it back, a state review has found.</p><p>The state Department of Education cited Oakland Unified for not meeting federal requirements in its distribution of federal Title I and Title II money&nbsp;to provide teacher training and tutoring for struggling students at private schools. Private schools are entitled to a share of federal money, but public school districts are responsible for maintaining control of the funds.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/542922-oakland-unified-notice-of-findings.html" target="_blank">state found</a> that Oakland Unified paid instructors who were not independent of their private schools, shipped materials directly to the private schools without taking an inventory and&nbsp;let private schools design their own taxpayer-funded programs.</p><p>State officials expedited the review, originally planned for January, after California Watch <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">reported</a> that the district had paid officials at St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church&rsquo;s private school based on padded enrollment numbers. The West Oakland K-12 school also has come <a href="http://californiawatch.org/school-alarm" target="_blank">under fire</a> for making its students solicit money at BART stations and for the alleged physical abuse of students, which the school has denied.</p><p>Oakland Unified is asking for more time to resolve the state&#39;s findings of noncompliance, said spokesman Troy Flint.</p><p>&quot;Normally, you would have had a longer timeframe ... to make sure you have all your ducks in a row,&quot; Flint said. &quot;We didn&rsquo;t have that. Working in a more compressed timeframe was a challenge for us.&quot;</p><p>School board member Noel Gallo, who has pushed for more oversight of the funding, said he will work to &quot;address publicly the corrections that we have made and be able to monitor that on an ongoing basis.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>School districts are allowed to use the federal money to pay private school teachers to provide services like additional tutoring, but the teachers must be independent of the private schools.</p><p>The education department&#39;s review stated that Oakland Unified inappropriately paid $21,000 to a St. Andrew teacher who was not independent of the family-run school and that the district must &quot;recover&quot; those funds.&nbsp;</p><p>If the district is at fault for the problem, Flint said, it will have to compensate the federal program with other district money.</p><p>The report also cited the district for hiring the administrator of a Nation of Islam-affiliated K-12 school, Muhammad University of Islam, to provide services at her own school.</p><p>Flint said the district has &quot;philosophical differences&quot; with the California Department of Education over its interpretation of the law.</p><p>&quot;We had a differing interpretation, but obviously, we&rsquo;re compelled to follow the judgment of the CDE and we&rsquo;ll do that,&quot; he said. &quot;But we just want to make sure that we have clarity on what the parameters are.&quot;</p><p>Some private schools have objected to the requirements now being enforced by state officials, he said.</p><p>&quot;Because there&rsquo;s been more scrutiny as a result of the investigation related to St. Andrew, I guess they feel that some autonomy has been compromised,&quot; he said. &quot;The district, the state and the private schools need to reach a common understanding so that everyone can be satisfied that the law&#39;s being upheld.&quot;</p><p>The state review also singled out $3,600 in inappropriate payments to Robert Lacy Jr., a St. Andrew teacher whose father runs the school and church. The district had paid Lacy $100 per hour to repair computers for student use in October 2011 and again in March of this year. The Department of Education&#39;s report directed the district to reimburse the federal program from another funding source.</p><p>In earlier interviews with California Watch, several former students said Lacy would <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">hit, kick and throw things</a> at students and rarely let them use the computers. School officials have <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/troubled-oakland-school-padded-enrollment-district-finds-17594" target="_blank">denied</a> all allegations of abuse.</p><p>Earlier this year, Oakland Unified decided to <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-unified-cuts-funds-private-school-17848" target="_blank">cut off federal funds</a> to St. Andrew. After California Watch&#39;s investigation, the district determined that the school did inflate enrollment figures, which are used to allocate the funding.</p><p>The district also added two staff members to oversee the funds and required more visits to private schools to better monitor the use of the money.</p><p>&quot;I think that should address a lot of the concerns that the state has,&quot; Flint said. &quot;We can get beyond this and move our attention to our true emphasis, which is Oakland public school students.&quot;</p> K–12 Money and Politics Daily Report Education federal funding K-12 education Oakland Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Fri, 21 Dec 2012 08:05:04 +0000 Will Evans 18760 at http://californiawatch.org Michael Short/California Watch St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and private school in West Oakland  Oakland Unified cuts off funds for private school http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-unified-cuts-funds-private-school-17848 <p>The Oakland Unified School District is cutting off federal funds benefiting a private school accused of abuse after determining that the church school inflated its enrollment numbers.</p><p>The district also is increasing its oversight of the federal money it doles out to pay for tutoring and teacher development in private schools.</p><p>But a California Watch investigation has found additional flaws with the district&#39;s approach to private schools, which neither of those measures addresses: The district contracts with private school teachers who lack teaching credentials to provide special instruction to struggling students.</p><p>Federal and state officials say private school teachers hired with federal money not only must be credentialed, but also must meet even higher federal standards for &quot;highly qualified teachers.&quot; School district officials contacted in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego say they abide by those requirements, but Oakland maintains that the private school teachers paid by the district do not need special qualifications.</p><p>The district&rsquo;s recent changes come after a California Watch and CBS 5 <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">investigation</a> found the district was paying leaders of St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church based on padded enrollment figures at the West Oakland church&rsquo;s K-12 school. The school also has drawn scrutiny for requiring students to ask for donations at BART stations and for allegations of physically abusing students, which the school denies.</p><p>&ldquo;Our investigation found substantial evidence to corroborate the claim that St. Andrew&rsquo;s is inflating enrollment numbers to increase eligibility for federal funds,&rdquo; stated a recent district memo to school board members. &ldquo;Since St. Andrew&#39;s proved unable to effectively explain the discrepancies, we are forgoing any relationship with this school for the 2012-13 school year.&rdquo;</p><p>The district allocated more than $50,000 to benefit St. Andrew during the last school year based in part on total enrollment and partly on the number of low-income students.</p><p>The school claimed 195 students, but Oakland Unified found that 59 of those listed on school rosters were enrolled in Oakland public schools &ndash; 36 of them for the entire year.&nbsp;</p><p>Marc Guillory, an attorney representing St. Andrew, questioned the accuracy of the district&#39;s records.</p><p>&quot;I need to be able to check your records to ascertain precision as to records of the 36 students you claim attended OUSD the entire 2011-2012 school year,&quot; Guillory said in an email to the district&#39;s general counsel last month.</p><p>Guillory said this week that he has not received a response and didn&#39;t know that the district had decided to withhold funding. In an earlier interview, Guillory said the church&#39;s position is &quot;that they have a good-faith basis to submit the numbers that they submitted.&quot;</p><p>Approached by CBS 5 late last month, St. Andrew&#39;s 79-year-old pastor, Robert Lacy, chalked up the discrepancy to an honest mistake.</p><p>&quot;Sure, it was an error,&quot; he said, &quot;and everybody makes errors.&quot;</p><p>To ensure better monitoring of funds benefiting private schools, the school district is adding two staff members to help oversee the program and will require schools to provide rosters of students and teachers.</p><p>Also, every private school receiving taxpayer-funded services now will be visited at least three times a year,&nbsp;the district memo stated. Previously, district spokesman Troy Flint said, the policy had been to visit at least once a year.</p><p>&ldquo;We are confident that these changes will augment our ability to administer the private schools program in a way that protects public funds,&rdquo; the district memo stated.</p><p>For the 2010-11 school year, California&#39;s school districts spent $15.6 million in federal Title I funds on services to help private school students, primarily&nbsp;in low-income communities, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Education. Oakland distributed $474,344, more than any district except the far-larger Los Angeles Unified School District.</p><p>To provide Title I tutoring at St. Andrew, since at least 2008 Oakland Unified contracted with one of the school&rsquo;s teachers, Robert Lacy Jr., whose father runs the church and school.</p><p>Lacy Jr. is not a credentialed teacher, but&nbsp;the school district has maintained that he and other private school instructors do not need to be.</p><p>However, officials with the state and federal education departments said private school teachers paid with Title I money must meet the requirements of &quot;highly qualified teachers.&quot; Highly qualified teachers need at least a bachelor&#39;s degree and teaching credential and must show competency in the subjects they teach.</p><p>&quot;It is true that the private school teachers&nbsp;hired by the (district) have to meet the HQT (highly qualified teacher) requirement,&quot; Lara Azar, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, wrote in an email.</p><p>Flint, the Oakland district spokesman, responded that because Lacy Jr. is a contractor and not directly employed by the district, the standards don&#39;t apply. But state and federal officials said educational consulting companies are the third-party contractors that don&#39;t need teaching credentials for Title I instruction.</p><p>District staff are &quot;confident about our interpretation,&quot; Flint said. &quot;Other districts may do it differently.&quot;</p><p>Indeed, the San Francisco Unified School District doesn&#39;t contract with private school teachers at all because of the federal standards.</p><p>&quot;We need to hire credentialed teachers ... and a lot of them do not have California teaching credentials,&quot; said Mary Elisalde, program administrator for state and federal programs.</p><p>Instead, for Title I tutoring at San Francisco private schools, the district contracts with Catapult Learning, a national provider of educational services, Elisalde said. Catapult&#39;s instructors do not need to be credentialed teachers under federal guidelines.</p><p>The San Diego Unified School District also abides by the higher standards.</p><p>&ldquo;The teacher has to be &lsquo;highly qualified&rsquo; to provide Title I instruction,&rdquo; said Peggy Zickert, program manager for private school services. &ldquo;If they haven&rsquo;t done it, then they&rsquo;re not eligible to provide the services.&quot;</p><p>Zickert said she prefers to rely on&nbsp;public school teachers to provide tutoring at private schools because &quot;they understand the program, so there&rsquo;s less of a learning curve.&quot;</p><p>In San Diego, 37 private schools receive Title I services &ndash; more than twice as many as in Oakland &ndash; but the total amount of money is less: $323,358 for the 2010-11 school year. Zickert said she visits every school once a month and some schools weekly.</p><p>&ldquo;I just want to make sure that things are going as they should, that what&rsquo;s supposed to be going on is really going on,&quot; she said. &quot;For me, this is my job. I&rsquo;m out of the office a lot.&quot;</p><p>The Los Angeles Unified School District provides Title I services to some 140 private schools, spending more than $10 million during the 2010-11 school year. District staff attempt to visit every school once a month, said&nbsp;Tina Saunders, coordinator of the Title I private schools program.</p><p>&quot;We make every effort to get out and make sure that the services are provided the way that they should be,&quot; she said.</p><p>Saunders said she contracts with few private school teachers.</p><p>&quot;I&nbsp;do actually have some schools that choose to have their teachers provide the Title I services, but they still have to meet the &#39;highly qualified&#39; criteria,&quot; she said.</p><p>Ron Reynolds, executive director of the California Association of Private School Organizations, called for tough measures for schools that misrepresent enrollment figures. Private schools like St. Andrew report their student numbers to the state Department of Education under penalty of perjury.</p><p>&quot;I want to see those schools prosecuted. I don&rsquo;t want schools to take liberties and try to game the system,&quot; Reynolds said. &quot;One school like that gives a black eye to the entire enterprise of private schooling.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>While Reynolds called St. Andrew a &ldquo;clear extreme outlier,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;the Oakland situation demonstrates that there&rsquo;s opportunity for abuse.&rdquo;</p><p>Oakland school board member Noel Gallo, who pushed for reforms, said the district had cut back oversight staff in the past because of budget cuts.</p><p>&quot;Those are special federal funds, being set aside by taxpayers to give kids with special needs a chance,&quot; he said. &quot;Too many times, it happens where poor kids get left out, disregarded and poorly served. We have to honor our obligation.&quot;</p> K–12 Daily Report Department of Education enrollment federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Fri, 07 Sep 2012 06:05:02 +0000 Will Evans 17848 at http://californiawatch.org Michael Short/California Watch Oakland school board member Noel Gallo had called for a review of the district's oversight of funds for private schools. Troubled Oakland school padded enrollment, district finds http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/troubled-oakland-school-padded-enrollment-district-finds-17594 <p>A controversial West Oakland private school, now reportedly drawing FBI scrutiny, has padded its roster&nbsp;sheets with public school students, according to an Oakland Unified School District investigation.</p><p>The district&#39;s inquiry aims to determine whether leaders at St. Andrew&nbsp;Missionary Baptist Church and private school received federal funds&nbsp;based on inflated enrollment numbers, as <a href="http://californiawatch.org/school-alarm" target="_blank">reported</a> by&nbsp;California Watch and CBS 5.&nbsp;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.</p><p>After Oakland Unified <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/374758-ousd-letter-to-st-andrew.html" target="_blank">demanded proof </a>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&#39;s&nbsp;general counsel&nbsp;told board members in a memo this week that 59 of those students were enrolled at&nbsp;least part of the year in public schools. Thirty-six of them, according to the district&#39;s findings, attended public schools the entire year.</p><p>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.</p><p>Oakland Unified also sent letters to the parents of children on the list to confirm whether they were indeed St. Andrew students. Of the five that responded, each said they did not have children attending St. Andrew last year, according to Flint.</p><p>&quot;The findings are concerning,&quot; Flint said. &quot;We are eager to hear how these discrepancies can be explained.&quot;</p><p>Marc Guillory, an attorney representing St. Andrew, said some of the district&#39;s initial findings were not entirely accurate.&nbsp;</p><p>He also presented numerous explanations for cross-over between St. Andrew and public school students: Students&nbsp;could have started the year at St. Andrew and moved to a district school later. Or they could have signed up at St. Andrew, never actually attended the school, yet still remain listed on the roster sheet. Another possibility, Guillory said, is that some of the listed students attended St. Andrew in the 2010-11 school year instead of last year.</p><p>Guillory acknowledged that his clients &quot;need to organize their paperwork better,&quot; but blamed the district for lacking an established process for determining correct enrollment numbers.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re in a verification process and it&rsquo;s still ongoing,&quot; Guillory said. &quot;I&rsquo;m working with my clients to see what&rsquo;s going on here. They are cooperating with the district.&quot;</p><p>The district&#39;s general counsel, Jacqueline Minor, said in a board meeting earlier this month that until the district is satisfied with St. Andrew&#39;s responses, &quot;we will not engage in a process that will result in further funds to the school.&quot;</p><p>Board member&nbsp;David Kakishiba&nbsp;said in an email that it &quot;appears that there&#39;s a likelihood St. Andrew is practicing fraudulent student enrollment accounting.&quot;</p><p>Guillory&nbsp;objected to the district singling out St. Andrew.</p><p>&quot;There needs to be some questions in the other schools too, not just the African American religious ones,&quot; he said. &quot;There needs to be a policy review here, so that these things don&rsquo;t end up happening, whether it be by mistake or otherwise.&quot;</p><p>Guillory said the FBI has not attempted to contact his clients.</p><p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px; ">In a letter last month to the district, Guillory answered <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">allegations</a> from parents and former students of child abuse and exploitation.</p><p>&quot;My clients do not condone child physical, mental or emotional abuse of any kind, in any environment, and unequivocally deny all allegations of child abuse or neglect,&quot; he wrote. &quot;Moreover, my clients&#39; contend that any fundraising activity, on behalf of parents in need of tuition assistance, was conducted in compliance with child labor laws and standards.&quot;</p><p>While an Oakland Fire Department inspection determined that St. Andrew&#39;s classrooms can only fit 58 people, Guillory said the school also instructs students in the church sanctuary, which can fit 200.</p><p>A fire inspection in May <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/366330-fire-inspection-report.html" target="_blank">found</a> several code violations, including the lack of a fire alarm system. A follow-up inspection last month determined that St. Andrew had not fixed any of the problems, according to inspector&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px; ">Edward Gervasoni.</span></p><p>In addition to the K-12 school, the Lacy family also runs <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/13401/index.html" target="_blank">St.&nbsp;</a><span style="line-height: 19.5px; "><a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/13401/index.html" target="_blank">Andrew Theological &amp; Academic University</a>, which advertises a host of advanced degrees,&nbsp;out of their church. After California Watch raised the issue, the state last month issued a <a href="http://www.bppe.ca.gov/enforcement/actions/cf_1213001.pdf" target="_blank">$50,000 fine</a> against the institution for operating without approval from the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. St. Andrew is appealing the citation, according to Guillory.</span></p> K–12 Daily Report enrollment Oakland Oakland Unified School District St. Andrews School Alarm Fri, 17 Aug 2012 06:05:02 +0000 Will Evans 17594 at http://californiawatch.org Michael Short/California Watch St. Andrew pastor Robert Lacy and son Robert Lacy Jr. declined to speak with reporters outside a June school board meeting. Oakland church school solicitation prompts BART policy change http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-church-school-solicitation-prompts-bart-policy-change-17198 <p><em><strong>Update, July 20, 2012:</strong>&nbsp;This story updates with information about when the new BART policy changes would take effect.</em></p><p>BART leaders have decided to alter the transit agency&#39;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,&nbsp;to solicit funds at stations after school and at night.<br /> <br /> 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.&nbsp;BART spokesman Jim Allison said other changes could still be made. &nbsp;<br /> <br /> 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&rsquo;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.</p><p>St. Andrew&rsquo;s last BART permit expired in June. But BART&rsquo;s new rules may not prevent Lacy from obtaining a permit in the future. The school&#39;s last permit allowed fundraising from 5 to 8 p.m., and school officials or other adults&nbsp;typically accompanied the students. The school also can dodge the requirements all together by directing children to panhandle elsewhere.<br /> <br /> Linda Haynes, who sent her children to the school eight years ago, said her children were forced to sell candy in order to fund a school field trip. One day, Haynes skipped her job as a house cleaner in San Francisco to secretly stand guard over the kids, who were unsupervised, as they solicited cars from the median on a busy street near the school&rsquo;s property.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Three hours they were out there, running back and forth, hollering at cars,&rdquo; she recalled. &ldquo;And that area is not a safe area. There&rsquo;s prostitution down the street. There&rsquo;s people selling drugs. I had two young ladies going to that school. That&rsquo;s not a safe place for them to be.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Haynes said she saw St. Andrew students selling candy at a BART station and outside the Walmart as recently as three weeks ago. She and other parents also have spotted students raising money on Broadway in downtown Oakland. According to BART, some passengers have complained about being approached aggressively.<br /> <br /> Concerns about the children first prompted talk of a policy change last September, after BART board member Robert Raburn said he saw several St. Andrew students soliciting funds unsupervised at the Fruitvale BART station. Following stories by California Watch and CBS 5, the BART board asked general counsel Matt Burrows to explore ways to alter the permit policy without trampling on the organization&#39;s rights to free speech.</p><p>In addition to requiring supervision for children and limiting hours, Burrows told board members that the new rules will require permit holders &ldquo;to speak from a static location, such as a stationary table, booth or other locations,&rdquo; to keep them from &ldquo;walking the station and accosting passengers,&rdquo; according to a memo dated July 10.<br /> <br /> Michael Risher, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, said the St. Andrew problem might not be large enough to warrant such broad restrictions. The new rules have the potential to infringe on free speech rights, especially if applied liberally, he said, adding that the board should not make the changes &ldquo;in secret,&rdquo; but allow the public to have a say.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;What is going to be the geographic scope of these rules?&quot; he said. &quot;If they&#39;re only saying, for example in the Embarcadero station, that people can&#39;t solicit right in front of the fare gates, that&#39;s OK because that can cause a lot of congestion.</p><p>&quot;But if they&#39;re going to force people off into a place where nobody goes, that&#39;s not reasonable. They shouldn&#39;t do that,&quot; he said. &quot;I&rsquo;m inclined to say that&rsquo;s too restrictive.&quot;</p><p>Raburn called the changes &ldquo;relatively minor tweaks&rdquo; and said the new policy, which is still being written, would not come before the board &ldquo;unless somebody raises their hands and says hold it.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;For the health and welfare of youth, we have to have some restrictions,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Adult supervision is absolutely essential.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> But St. Andrew students could still return to BART stations.&nbsp;If they follow the rules, said Allison, the transit agency spokesman, they are eligible for another permit.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re following the U.S. Constitution,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to guarantee people&rsquo;s First Amendment rights.&quot;</p> Money and Politics Daily Report BART Education Oakland St. Andrews student School Alarm Fri, 20 Jul 2012 07:05:03 +0000 Shoshana Walter 17198 at http://californiawatch.org Will Evans/California Watch St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and Private School in West Oakland  Oakland church school warned funding is at risk http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-church-school-warned-funding-risk-16843 <p><em><strong>UPDATE,&nbsp;June 28, 2012: </strong>The Alameda County Social Services Agency&nbsp;provided a response regarding allegations of child abuse at St. Andrew private school.</em></p><p id="clply-tag">The Oakland Unified School District has put a controversial church school on notice that its federal funding may be cut off&nbsp;if it can&#39;t provide proof to support its enrollment figures.</p><p>In a strongly worded <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/374758-ousd-letter-to-st-andrew.html" target="_blank">letter</a> sent Monday to the Rev. Robert Lacy, pastor and principal of St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and private school, the district&#39;s general counsel demanded a response&nbsp;to reports that the school&#39;s inflated enrollment resulted in undeserved&nbsp;taxpayer funding. The letter also asks for a response to allegations from parents and former students that the school&nbsp;abused and neglected its students and required them to solicit donations at BART stations at night.</p><p>If the school doesn&rsquo;t provide &ldquo;evidence of compliance&rdquo; within 30 days, the letter states, the district reserves the right to cut off federal funding.</p><p>&quot;Their future eligibility would depend on the quality of their response,&quot; said district spokesman Troy Flint.</p><p>For years, the district has distributed federal funds &ndash; based on enrollment numbers &ndash; for teacher training and for tutoring of struggling students. Most of the money went to Robert Lacy Jr., the pastor&#39;s son who teaches at the school, and to another teacher who married the pastor in 1999.</p><p>The school claimed to have 195 students this year, including 61 low-income students eligible for special funding, but a California Watch <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">investigation</a> found the actual number of students has been below 30 and sometimes much lower.</p><p>St. Andrew officials did not respond to a request for comment on the district&#39;s letter. At a <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-unified-board-orders-investigation-church-school-16635" target="_blank">school board meeting</a> earlier this month, Lacy Jr. said, &quot;<span style="line-height: 20px; ">We are able to respond to every question that arises about the money that comes to St. Andrew.&quot;</span></p><p>Flint said the district&#39;s investigation, ordered by the school board, is ongoing.</p><p>&quot;To this point we haven&#39;t confirmed anything,&quot; he said. &quot;Definitely there&rsquo;s a number of credible allegations, but I can&rsquo;t go any further than that.&quot;</p><p>School board member Noel Gallo said he wants a more proactive investigation and a faster result.</p><p>&quot;From what I&rsquo;ve read and listened to parents say, there&rsquo;s plenty of reasons why we ought to terminate (the funding),&quot; Gallo said. &quot;There&rsquo;s been enough documentation or evidence that what happened at St. Andrew with children was not an action that we ought to condone or support.&quot;</p><p>The district&#39;s letter also said Oakland Unified has reported allegations of neglect and abuse to the county agency that investigates child abuse.</p><p>Though the Alameda County Social Services Agency received calls from&nbsp;the school district, &ldquo;no investigation was initiated because no&nbsp;specific report of child abuse or neglect was made,&rdquo; said agency&nbsp;spokeswoman Sylvia Soublet in an email.</p><p>The agency advised the district that child abuse by someone other than&nbsp;a parent is an issue for police to handle, not the county agency.</p><p>Soublet wrote that all allegations against St. Andrew that were&nbsp;&ldquo;appropriately reported&rdquo; to the agency &ldquo;have been evaluated or&nbsp;investigated according to established Agency protocol.&rdquo;</p><p id="clply-tag">BART officials also previously reported&nbsp;concerns about the treatment of St. Andrew students to the social services agency, but &quot;the county told BART staff that they focus on domestic abuse and that public endangerment is a police matter,&quot; said spokeswoman Luna Salaver.</p><p>The county &quot;indicated that they would alert the Oakland Police Department,&quot; according to a BART staff memo to the board of directors earlier this month.</p><p>BART police have monitored the soliciting of donations at stations and haven&#39;t found any violations of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/374757-bart-permit-june-2012.html" target="_blank">permits</a> that BART grants St. Andrew, Salaver said.</p><p>Two BART directors, meanwhile, <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/scrutiny-oakland-church-school-grows-16725" target="_blank">want to change</a> BART&#39;s policy to restrict the St. Andrew permits.</p> K–12 Daily Report BART charity child abuse donations federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Thu, 28 Jun 2012 07:05:03 +0000 Will Evans 16843 at http://californiawatch.org Michael Short/California Watch Board member Noel Gallo says Oakland Unified should cut off funding to St. Andrew private school.  Scrutiny of Oakland church school grows http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/scrutiny-oakland-church-school-grows-16725 <p>Scrutiny of a West Oakland church school accused of abuse by parents and students is growing,&nbsp;with BART officials now questioning the school&#39;s right to solicit for donations in stations and state officials investigating whether federal funds should have gone to school leaders.</p><p>The latest actions follow an ongoing investigation by California Watch and CBS 5 into St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and private school, where students as young as 9&nbsp;say they were required to ask for money for hours after school and federal funding appears to be based on inflated enrollment numbers. The Oakland school board also has <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-unified-board-orders-investigation-church-school-16635" target="_blank">launched an investigation</a><strong>&nbsp;</strong>after a rancorous school board meeting earlier this month, where parents alleged mistreatment of students at the school.</p><p>&quot;We should not be in the position of allowing children to be exploited in any kind of way,&quot; said BART Director Lynette Sweet. &quot;An abundance of caution tells us we should stop (the soliciting).&quot;</p><p>Church leader&nbsp;Robert Lacy Jr. objected to the continued scrutiny of&nbsp;the <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/752.html" target="_blank">school</a> his father, the pastor Robert Lacy, founded in 1978.</p><p>&quot;Now it sounds like it&rsquo;s getting into harassing individuals that aren&rsquo;t bothering anyone,&quot; he said in an interview. &quot;It sounds like you&rsquo;re trying to defame the character of the school and the church and everything that has to do with St. Andrew.&quot;</p><p>BART has routinely granted permits allowing St. Andrew to solicit donations, and staff previously defended that action to its board citing free speech rights. But Sweet and Director Robert Raburn now are asking BART&#39;s lawyers to determine&nbsp;what leeway the agency has to restrict the soliciting activities of St. Andrew.</p><p>&quot;By all accounts, this is not a group that we want to promote on public&nbsp;property,&quot; Raburn wrote in an email&nbsp;to California Watch.</p><div>Raburn said he became concerned last year when he saw unsupervised St. Andrew students asking for money at the Fruitvale BART after dark. Sweet also grew alarmed, she said, after seeing the soliciting continue day after day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But BART staff responded to the board in a <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/372850-bart-memo.html" target="_blank">December memo</a> that &quot;the speech activities are protected on the grounds that the&nbsp;Church is a religious organization engaged in charitable&nbsp;solicitation.&quot;</div><div><p>St. Andrew students have been raising money for years, but&nbsp;it&#39;s <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/controversial-church-sends-kids-solicit-money-bart-stations-13825" target="_blank">unclear</a> where the money is going. The pastor drives a Cadillac Escalade while the school building needs repairs.</p><p>California Watch recently uncovered <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">allegations of abuse</a> at the hands of Robert Lacy Jr., who teaches at the school and sometimes takes students to solicit at BART stations. Former students said he hit and threw things at children in his classes. Lacy Jr. has said he doesn&#39;t have &quot;any history&quot; of hitting children.</p><p>Sweet said the staff decision to keep monthly permits flowing to St. Andrew was &quot;the wrong thing to do.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It didn&rsquo;t appear that they were raising money for a legitimate cause,&quot; she said. &quot;It also appeared that they were out there too long &ndash; they were being abused.&quot;</p><p>BART spokeswoman Luna Salaver said that as a public agency, BART has to issue the permits &quot;on a level playing field.&quot; She said BART police monitored the situation and did not observe any violations.</p><p>&quot;BART takes children&rsquo;s safety very seriously,&quot; Salaver said.</p><p>BART issued&nbsp;this month&#39;s permit to Robert Lacy and Andrew Lacy, another son of the pastor.&nbsp;The permit allows fundraising every day from 5 to 8 p.m. at 15 BART stations in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Leandro.</p><p>Andrew Lacy has a history of illegal activity. He pleaded guilty to <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/366460-charges.html" target="_blank">felony welfare fraud</a> in 2004, according to court records. And, according to <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/372858-andrew-lacy-2002-arrest.html" target="_blank">police records</a> newly obtained by California Watch, he was&nbsp;also arrested in 2002 on charges of injuring his girlfriend with a club. He was convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in that case, which was later dismissed after he satisfied the conditions of his probation, according to court records.</p><p>BART does not conduct a criminal background check before issuing permits, Salaver said.</p><div><p>In a separate custody court case this year, the father of&nbsp;Andrew Lacy&#39;s stepdaughter &ndash; then a student at St. Andrew &ndash; accused Lacy of threatening to slap the girl if she didn&#39;t solicit at BART stations.&nbsp;The girl&rsquo;s mother denied the allegations in court filings, but the&nbsp;judge gave primary custody to the father, specifying that the girl not engage in soliciting.</p><p>Andrew Lacy did not respond to requests for comment.</p><p>Meanwhile, state officials plan to investigate whether the Oakland Unified School District mismanaged federal funds as it distributed money to St. Andrew teachers. California Watch found that the school&#39;s reported enrollment numbers, used to determine its level of federal funding, far exceeded the number of students who actually attend.&nbsp;</p><p>Oakland Unified distributes Title I money based on the number of low-income students and Title II money based on total enrollment. The district uses enrollment figures reported to the state to allocate Title II funds.</p><p>St. Andrew reported&nbsp;to the state it had&nbsp;195 students this year, including 61 low-income students, while former students said fewer than&nbsp;30&nbsp;attended. An&nbsp;Oakland fire inspector observed 15 to 20 students and determined that the classrooms could fit no more than 58.</p><p>As part of a federal program to improve teaching and help struggling students at both public and private schools, Oakland Unified allocated at least $50,000 to benefit St. Andrew this school year and paid out&nbsp;$173,500 over the previous four years.&nbsp;Most of the money went to Lacy Jr. and Carrie Banks, a St. Andrew teacher who married the pastor in 1999.</p></div></div><p>Oakland Unified&nbsp;spokesman Troy Flint said the state is responsible for making sure the numbers are accurate.</p><p>&quot;It just makes common sense,&quot; Flint said.</p><p>But state Education Department spokesman Paul Hefner said the state does not check the enrollment figures.</p><p>Local school districts, he said, &ldquo;need to take steps to verify those numbers.&rdquo;</p><p>Hefner said the state is moving up a planned routine review of the district&#39;s distribution of&nbsp;Title I and II funds from January<strong>&nbsp;</strong>to September because of the controversy. The review, he said, will also look into whether the money should have gone to Lacy Jr. and Banks, since the law requires&nbsp;it be used for consultants who are &quot;independent&quot; of the school.</p><p>The district could be on the hook for refunding any misspent money.</p><p>In total, the district allocated $1.2 million to benefit Oakland private school students and teachers&nbsp;during&nbsp;the 2011-12 school year, according to district records.<br /> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://CBSSF.images.worldnow.com/interface/js/WNVideo.js?rnd=779020;hostDomain=video.sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com;playerWidth=425;playerHeight=360;isShowIcon=true;clipId=7437874;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=CBS.SF%252Fworldnowplayer;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=fixed'></script></p><p><strong>Correction:&nbsp;</strong><em>Due to incorrect information from BART, a previous version of this article misstated information about St. Andrew&#39;s BART permit. This month&#39;s permit was also given to Robert Lacy and allows fundraising from 5 to 8 p.m. at 15 stations including in San Francisco.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> K–12 Daily Report BART charity child abuse donations federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Tue, 26 Jun 2012 06:05:03 +0000 Will Evans 16725 at http://californiawatch.org Michael Short/California Watch Robert Lacy Jr. is a teacher at St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church private school in West Oakland.  Michael Short/California Watch The Rev. Robert Lacy, who runs St. Andrew church and school, and son Robert Lacy Jr. declined to speak with reporters and covered their faces as they left a school board meeting. CBS 5: Students of Oakland school keep panhandling as scrutiny grows http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/cbs-5-students-oakland-school-keep-panhandling-scrutiny-grows-16864 <p>OAKLAND (CBS 5) &mdash; 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.</p><p>A joint CBS 5 and&nbsp;<a href="http://californiawatch.org/school-alarm" target="_blank">California Watch investigation</a>&nbsp;found Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist School inflating attendance numbers to get federal funds. Meanwhile, students are still out on the streets asking for money.</p> K–12 Daily Report Oakland Unified School District St. Andrews School Alarm Mon, 25 Jun 2012 18:33:11 +0000 16864 at http://californiawatch.org Slideshow: Parents speak out against Oakland private school http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/slideshow-parents-speak-out-against-oakland-private-school-16639 Angry parents accused a church school of mistreating and exploiting children at an Oakland school board meeting June 13. After a California Watch investigation, the Oakland Unified School District board directed its general counsel to investigate whether St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church inflated its enrollment numbers to get more than its share of taxpayer funding from the district. Church leaders take students to BART stations to ask for donations most weekday evenings. <link href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/skins/tn3e/tn3e.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" /> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/js/jquery.js"></script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/js/jquery.tn3.min.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> </script> <style type="text/css"> .mygallery{ display:none; }</style> <div id="content"> <div class="mygallery"> <div class="tn3 album"> <h4>Angry parents urge school board to act</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Angry parents urge school board to act</div> <ol> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church’s private school in West Oakland claims to have 195 students, while former students and government inspections put the number at fewer than 30.</div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/01_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">At an Oakland school board meeting June 13, parents of former students accused St. Andrew private school of mistreating children. </div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/02_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Robert Lacy Jr., a St. Andrew teacher who has been accused of abusing students, said the school would respond to questions but didn’t comment further. </div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/03_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Charlos Stewart Jr., 12, told the school board about being robbed while asking for donations for St. Andrew. </div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/04_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Board member Noel Gallo says that if the school district investigation finds violations at St. Andrew, it would cut off funding to the school. </div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/05_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Kelly Corbitt, who pulled her daughter out of St. Andrew this year, demanded that the school be shut down.</div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/06_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Board member Alice Spearman says the district doesn’t have the authority to shut down a private school, but suggested parents could stop sending their children. </div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/07_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Deborah Carney says her daughter witnessed physical abuse of children at St. Andrew when she attended a couple of years ago. </div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/08_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> <li> <h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4> <div class="tn3 description">Pastor Robert Lacy, who runs St. Andrew church and school, and son Robert Lacy Jr. declined to speak with reporters and covered their faces as they left the board meeting.</div> <a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/09_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li> </ol> </div> </div> </div> <script>var tn1 = $('.mygallery').tn3({ skinDir:"http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/skins", autoplay:false, width:630, delay:5000, skin:"tn3e", imageClick:"url", image:{ crop:false, transitions:[{ type:"blinds", duration:300 }, { type:"grid", duration:160, gridX:9, gridY:7, easing:"easeInCubic", sort:"circle" },{ type:"slide", duration:430, easing:"easeInOutExpo" }] } }); $('div.mygallery').fadeIn(4000);</script> K–12 Daily Report School Alarm Thu, 14 Jun 2012 23:45:18 +0000 Will Evans 16639 at http://californiawatch.org Oakland Unified board orders investigation of church school http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/oakland-unified-board-orders-investigation-church-school-16635 <div style="margin-bottom:-70px;"><p>Oakland&#39;s school board has ordered a formal investigation of a church school, a school board member confirmed today, following a meeting last night where&nbsp;angry parents of former students accused the school of exploiting and abusing children.</p></div><link href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/skins/tn3e/tn3e.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" /> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/js/jquery.js"></script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/js/jquery.tn3.min.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> </script><style type="text/css"> .mygallery{ display:none; }</style> <div id="content"><div class="mygallery"><div class="tn3 album" style="margin-top:-78px;"><h4>Angry parents urge school board to act</h4><div class="tn3 description">Angry parents urge school board to act</div><ol><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church&rsquo;s private school in West Oakland claims to have 195 students, while former students and government inspections put the number at fewer than 30.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/01_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">At an Oakland school board meeting June 13, parents of former students accused St. Andrew private school of mistreating children.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/02_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Robert Lacy Jr., a St. Andrew teacher who has been accused of abusing students, said the school would respond to questions but didn&rsquo;t comment further.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/03_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Charlos Stewart Jr., 12, told the school board about being robbed while asking for donations for St. Andrew.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/04_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Board member Noel Gallo says that if the school district investigation finds violations at St. Andrew, it would cut off funding to the school.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/05_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Kelly Corbitt, who pulled her daughter out of St. Andrew this year, demanded that the school be shut down.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/06_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Board member Alice Spearman says the district doesn&rsquo;t have the authority to shut down a private school, but suggested parents could stop sending their children.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/07_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Deborah Carney says her daughter witnessed physical abuse of children at St. Andrew when she attended a couple of years ago.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/08_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li><li><h4>Michael Short/California Watch</h4><div class="tn3 description">Pastor Robert Lacy, who runs St. Andrew church and school, and son Robert Lacy Jr. declined to speak with reporters and covered their faces as they left the board meeting.</div><a href="http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/images/fixed/09_oakschool_slideshow.jpg"></a></li></ol></div></div></div><script>var tn1 = $('.mygallery').tn3({ skinDir:"http://californiawatch.org/files/tn3gallery_full/skins", autoplay:false, width:630, delay:5000, skin:"tn3e", imageClick:"url", image:{ crop:false, transitions:[{ type:"blinds", duration:300 }, { type:"grid", duration:160, gridX:9, gridY:7, easing:"easeInCubic", sort:"circle" },{ type:"slide", duration:430, easing:"easeInOutExpo" }] } }); $('div.mygallery').fadeIn(4000);</script><div style="clear:both;"><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Oakland Unified School District board&nbsp;directed its general counsel to investigate whether St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church&#39;s private school inflated its enrollment numbers to get more taxpayer funding from the district, according to board member Noel Gallo.</p><p>If the investigation finds any violations, the district will cut off funding immediately, Gallo said, and any&nbsp;evidence of criminal conduct will be referred to the district attorney.</p><p>&quot;There was unanimous concern by the board and there was a unanimous vote to direct the legal counsel to do it,&quot; Gallo said in an interview.&nbsp;</p><p>A district spokesman said he could not comment on closed-session action, but acknowledged an investigation has begun.</p><p>&quot;We are investigating and this is a priority, but what our actions might be in the future depend on what the investigation uncovers,&quot; said spokesman Troy Flint.</p><p>The board made its decision in closed session, after a rowdy meeting during which mothers and a grandmother of former students spoke out, claiming the school mistreats its students.&nbsp;The West Oakland school requires students to solicit&nbsp;donations at BART stations most weekday evenings.</p><p>&ldquo;They pimp their kids out, they beat their kids, and they do not teach their kids,&rdquo; said Kelly Corbitt, who pulled her daughter out of St. Andrew this year. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m disgusted to see that those people are still in business and you guys give them money all the time for grants when they don&rsquo;t do anything for the kids.&rdquo;</p><div><p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px; ">After the impassioned complaints, Robert Lacy Jr., a St. Andrew teacher whose father is principal and pastor, asked to speak, sparking a hubbub among audience members who hadn&#39;t realized he was there.</p><p>&ldquo;We heard that this information was going to be brought up tonight; however, we were not ready to respond,&rdquo; Lacy said. &ldquo;But I would like to say we are able to respond to every question that arises about the money that comes to St. Andrew. &hellip; And we&rsquo;re ready to respond and we can respond to any questions that are addressed to St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church private school. And that&rsquo;s all I&rsquo;d like to comment at this time.&rdquo;</p><p>Lacy did not address any specific allegations and declined to talk with reporters as he left<strong>&nbsp;</strong>with his father, Robert Lacy. The elder Lacy stopped to complain to a police officer that reporters were &quot;harassing us.&quot; The two then walked away, covering their faces with sheets of paper as a <a href="http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/06/13/oakland-school-board-hears-from-parents-of-panhandling-students/" target="_blank">CBS 5 cameraman followed them</a>.</p></div><p>A <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">California Watch investigation</a> found that school leaders, including Lacy Jr., receive taxpayer money based on the school&#39;s claimed enrollment of&nbsp;195 students, 61 of them identified as low-income children eligible for special federal funding. Former students and government inspections, however, indicate that the actual number of students attending is fewer than 30. An Oakland fire inspector determined the school&#39;s classrooms can&#39;t hold more than 58 people.</p><p>California Watch observed 15 students enter the school one morning last month, and only six the following morning.</p><p>Oakland Unified allocated $50,000 in federal funds this year based on the school&#39;s enrollment figures and paid $173,500 during&nbsp;the previous&nbsp;four school years, according to information provided by the district. Most of the money has gone&nbsp;to Carrie Banks,&nbsp;a St. Andrew teacher who married the elder Lacy in 1999, and to Lacy Jr.</p><p>Several former students have said Lacy Jr. hit, kicked and threw objects at students.&nbsp;Lacy Jr., known by students as Rev. Robert, has said he has no history of hitting children.&nbsp;</p><p>At the meeting, Catherine Joiner told the board that her son was once locked in a room as punishment at St. Andrew and fell two stories trying to climb&nbsp;out of the window to go to the bathroom. Her son, Charlos&nbsp;Stewart Jr., now 12, recounted a time he was robbed while asking for donations.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know what to do,&rdquo; said the boy, who appeared nervous and at a loss for words.</p><p>&quot;Someone robbed him and there wasn&rsquo;t an adult (on) the present premises to even have seen it,&quot; Joiner said. &quot;That&rsquo;s not OK.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Board member Gallo said today that he has asked the superintendent to look into the larger question of how the district distributes federal funds to private schools and provide recommendations &quot;on how we won&#39;t let St. Andrew&rsquo;s happen again,&quot; he said.</p><p>Gallo said Oakland Unified used to issue the funds to third-party contractors, who in turn provide&nbsp;services to schools like St. Andrew, instead of letting the private schools pick who&nbsp;gets paid with the funds.</p><p>Federal law requires that consultants hired with the money be &ldquo;independent of such private school and of any religious organization.&rdquo;</p><p>William Nownes, Oakland Unified&#39;s&nbsp;administrator of the private schools program, said in a previous interview that Lacy Jr. could be considered independent because he is not the principal and doesn&rsquo;t have the ability to hire and fire employees.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s been one of those areas where we&rsquo;ve slipped,&quot; Gallo said today. &quot;We haven&#39;t paid attention to it the way we used to.&quot;</p><p>In the meeting, Marilyn Lawson told the board that St. Andrew officials kept her 5-year-old granddaughter at school until late in the evening while other students were sent out to ask for money at BART stations.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d just really like to know what&rsquo;s going to be done about this school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because children are being exploited.&rdquo;</p><p>Deborah Carney said her daughter witnessed physical abuse of children at St. Andrew when she attended a couple of years ago.</p><p>&quot;We already know what&rsquo;s happening,&quot; she said. &quot;We already know they&#39;re pimping the kids.&quot;</p><p>Board member Alice Spearman drew shouts from the crowd when she told the parents that other than looking at the funding, the district has limited options.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know of anything I can do &ndash; it&rsquo;s a non-public school,&quot; she said. &quot;Oakland Unified doesn&rsquo;t have anything to do with opening or closing that school.&rdquo;</p></div> K–12 Daily Report BART charity child abuse donations federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Thu, 14 Jun 2012 21:57:30 +0000 Will Evans 16635 at http://californiawatch.org CBS 5: Oakland board hears from parents of panhandling students http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/cbs-5-oakland-board-hears-parents-panhandling-students-16798 <p>School officials in Oakland heard an earful Wednesday night from parents and former students of Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist Church Private School, which sends students out to panhandle at BART stations.</p><p>The school may be private, but a joint CBS 5 and California Watch investigation found it received tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars from the federal government.</p> K–12 Daily Report BART charity child abuse donations federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools video School Alarm Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:01:26 +0000 16798 at http://californiawatch.org District board members urge investigation of Oakland school http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/district-board-members-urge-investigation-oakland-school-16519 <p>Oakland school board members are calling for the district to investigate whether a private school accused of abuse is inflating enrollment numbers to get more than its share of taxpayer funding.</p><p>The board members were responding to a California Watch <a href="http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428" target="_blank">investigation</a> into a West Oakland K-12 school run by St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church, which sends its students to ask for money at BART stations. Oakland Unified School District allocated $50,000 in federal funds this year based on the school&#39;s claim that it had 195 students, including 61 low-income children. Former students and government inspections, however, indicate the actual number is fewer than 30.</p><p>Most of the money is distributed in contracts, approved by the school board, to church leaders such as Robert Lacy Jr., who several former students said physically abused the children there.</p><p>Lacy Jr. has said he has no history of hitting children.</p><p>Board member Noel Gallo said the district must take action.</p><p>&quot;Not only is it a money issue, but it&rsquo;s really about children,&quot; Gallo said. &quot;The minute someone tells me something is questionable or not right, then I&#39;m just as responsible as the person doing it.&quot;</p><p>Gallo said the money to St. Andrew should be shut off if the district confirms problems at the school.</p><p>&quot;We do provide approval for the use of those public funds. Even though our staff are saying we&rsquo;re just a pass-through, we&rsquo;re still liable and responsible,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>Board member&nbsp;David Kakishiba also said the district should withhold funding if it finds the enrollment numbers were falsified.</p><p>&quot;Clearly if there&rsquo;s fraudulent activity going on, we need to put a stop to it,&quot; he said. &quot;There&#39;s some basic due diligence that I believe any school district is responsible for doing when we&rsquo;re transferring funds.&quot;</p><p>Board members are expecting Superintendent Tony Smith to report back to them on the issue at their next meeting on Wednesday.</p><p>District spokesman Troy Flint said there isn&#39;t currently a formal investigation and that the board would have to vote on whether the district should take action.</p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;re attentive to the issue, and right now things are just in the discussion phase,&quot; he said.</p><p>Flint said the district did not know about the accusations of abuse of children at the school &ndash; and that those allegations make the issue more urgent.</p><p>&ldquo;We take those with the utmost seriousness,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s our primary concern at the moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Kelly Corbitt, who pulled her 12-year-old daughter out of St. Andrew in February, called for even stronger measures.</p><p>&quot;They should shut that school down and make them pay back all the money,&quot; she said. &quot;Because there&rsquo;s no education being taught there at all. It&rsquo;s all a fraud.&quot;</p><p>Lacy Jr., who earlier defended himself and the school against what he called hearsay, said his attorney advised him not to comment further.</p><p>Board Vice President Jumoke Hinton Hodge wrote by e-mail that the California Watch report &quot;gives us pause, of course, on any further support of the school.&quot;</p><p>Hinton Hodge, whose district includes West Oakland, wrote that she was saddened that parents and students &quot;might not have gotten what they needed from West Oakland (public) schools that are steadily improving. I hope that families will reconsider coming back to West Oakland schools.&quot;</p><p>Gallo and&nbsp;Kakishiba said they want to review the district&#39;s disbursement of federal funds in general.</p><p>This school year, Oakland Unified allocated $784,000 in federal Title II money to 29 private schools in Oakland, based on the schools&#39; total enrollment, according to district records. The money is supposed to provide teacher training, and in St. Andrew&#39;s case <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357636-banks-ousd-contracts.html" target="_blank">goes to</a> Carrie Banks, who married the church&#39;s pastor and teaches kindergarten through third grade.</p><p>The district also allocated $441,000 in Title I funds to 16 private schools, based on the number of eligible low-income students at the schools. That money funds additional instruction for struggling students. The school board approved a $7,400 <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357635-lacy-jr-ousd-contracts.html" target="_blank">contract</a> in January for Lacy Jr. to provide the tutoring at $40 per hour. In April, district staff approved an additional $8,000 contract for Lacy Jr. that will go to the school board for final approval soon, said&nbsp;William Nownes, who administers the funding for Oakland Unified.</p><p>The school board typically signs off on a long list of these contracts&nbsp;as part of its consent agenda, which allows approval of routine items, bunched together, without discussion.</p><p>Gallo said district staff should at least spot check a sampling of the schools receiving money to verify enrollment figures and the quality of instruction.</p><p>&quot;We take it for granted that what we&rsquo;re voting for is a good thing, and I think we need to pay greater attention to exactly what we&#39;re supporting,&quot; Gallo said.</p> K–12 Daily Report BART child abuse donations federal funding Oakland Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Fri, 08 Jun 2012 07:05:02 +0000 Will Evans 16519 at http://californiawatch.org Michael Short/California Watch St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church in West Oakland  Oakland school accused of abuse is overbilling taxpayers, records show http://californiawatch.org/k-12/oakland-school-accused-abuse-overbilling-taxpayers-records-show-16428 <p>A West Oakland church school that makes its students ask for money at BART stations appears to have vastly inflated its enrollment numbers to collect extra taxpayer funding, some of which goes to a teacher who former students say physically abused them and other children.</p><p>And for years, St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/899/index.html" target="_blank">private school</a> has operated with virtually no government oversight despite repeated red flags. The K-12 school is run by <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/51212.html" target="_blank">Robert Lacy</a>, 79, a pastor who pleaded guilty in 2007 to theft of government money for taking his deceased father&rsquo;s Social Security payments.</p><p>Documents and interviews show St. Andrew has inflated its enrollment numbers, allowing school officials to reap tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding they might not have deserved.</p><p>The Oakland Unified School District &ndash; which oversees federal funding to aid the education of low-income students and others in private schools &ndash; allocated $50,000 this school year to St. Andrew. The funding was based on the school&rsquo;s claim that it had <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357631-2011-12-affidavit.html" target="_blank">195</a> students, including <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/365536-title-i-students.html" target="_blank">61</a> low-income students.</p><p>Over the previous four school years, Oakland Unified paid a total of $173,500 in federal funds to benefit St. Andrew based on its enrollment.</p><p>Yet former students and their parents said the school had no more than 30 students, and sometimes much fewer. An Oakland fire inspector said the school isn&rsquo;t allowed to have more than 58 people in its classrooms.</p><p>Some parents said they paid up to $400 per month for tuition, while others said the school was free &ndash; as long as their children raised funds at BART stations.</p><p>In separate interviews, several former students said the pastor&#39;s son&nbsp;Robert Lacy Jr., and a teacher and church leader, would hit, kick and throw things at students. Nine-year-old Corey Butler said Lacy Jr. hit him with a belt on his behind and across his hand. Butler said he saw Lacy Jr. abuse other students, too.</p><p>&ldquo;He kicks people. He kicked the big kids,&rdquo; Butler said. Butler&rsquo;s mother took him and his siblings out of St. Andrew this year.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t like it at all,&rdquo; said Genius Wesley, a 9-year-old whose father pulled him out of the school this year. &ldquo;The teacher was mean, and he always yelled at people. He hit this little kid all the time.&rdquo;</p><p>In an interview, <a href="http://bit.ly/KalNvN " target="_blank">Lacy Jr.</a> declined to answer questions about inflated enrollment numbers and said the students&rsquo; statements about abuse are not credible, calling them hearsay. He said the students represent a small sample of those who attended St. Andrew and indicated that their families may be disgruntled for other reasons.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe we just didn&rsquo;t give everything that they wanted us to give, money and stuff like that. Maybe that&rsquo;s the problem,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe we wouldn&rsquo;t excuse their unexcused absences.&rdquo;</p><p>Asked directly whether he hits children, Lacy Jr. said, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have any history of ever doing anything like that.&rdquo; Asked whether he does it currently, Lacy Jr. again responded, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have a history of that.&rdquo;</p><p>State and local officials are careful to note that the federal funding doesn&rsquo;t go directly to the school, but rather to &ldquo;independent&rdquo; consultants to provide services.</p><p>Most of the federal money for St. Andrew went to contracts for <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357636-banks-ousd-contracts.html" target="_blank">Carrie Banks</a> &ndash; who married the elder pastor in 1999 and teaches kindergarten through third grade &ndash; and to <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357635-lacy-jr-ousd-contracts.html" target="_blank">Lacy Jr.</a></p><p>Thalia Brown, a former kindergarten teacher at St. Andrew, said the church is more like a cult, where everyone fears and obeys the pastor. Brown has two children with Lacy Jr., but said about the school: &ldquo;The nicest thing I can say is my son will never go there.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You have God in your ear telling you that Rev. Lacy is your spiritual leader and you should listen to him,&rdquo; said Brown, who is divorced from Lacy Jr. &ldquo;No one ever is going to step up to that man.&rdquo;</p><p>Of the federal funding, Brown said, &ldquo;Rev. Lacy, he knows how to work it.&rdquo;</p><p>Part of the money is doled out based on the number of low-income students at the school, and the rest is based on total enrollment. Since 2003, with one exception, the school <a href="http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ps/index.asp" target="_blank">reported</a> to the state Department of Education that it had 195 students &ndash; 15 in each grade. The exception was the 2008-09 school year, when the school reported 265 students.&nbsp;</p><p>At the same time, the school reported to the state a low number of graduates: only 12 over the past four school years.</p><p>Despite claiming nearly 200 attendees, an inspection by the state Department of Social Services in March &ndash; to determine whether the school was also running a day care center &ndash; <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357625-dept-of-social-services-inspection.html" target="_blank">found</a> 14 children at the school one day and 12 the next.</p><p>One morning last month, from 7:45 to 9:45, California Watch observed about six children trickle into the church and nine more who were dropped off in the school van.&nbsp;</p><p>The next morning, one boy showed up at 8:20 and got into the van, which then left. The church doors remained locked &ndash; an adult who showed up couldn&rsquo;t get in &ndash; until the van returned at 9:45 a.m. with half a dozen children. School starts at 8 a.m., according to a packet of school rules provided to one parent.</p><p>Edward Gervasoni, an Oakland Fire Department inspector, visited the school last month in response to a citizen complaint. He said Lacy Jr. told him the school had 23 students but fluctuates up to 40. Gervasoni observed 15 to 20 students, he said, and <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/366330-fire-inspection-report.html" target="_blank">determined</a> that the fire code would allow no more than 58 people for all of the classrooms combined.</p><p>Courtney Corbitt, a 12-year-old whose mother took her out of the school in February, counted a total of 25 classmates by name, including several who were later pulled out by concerned parents and a few who are young children of the elder pastor. Corbitt said the students were lumped together into three classes.</p><p>The discrepancy between reported numbers and reality appears to go back for years. Gervasoni remembers seeing very few students at the school when he inspected it in 2007. As part of a bankruptcy proceeding in 2004, a church representative said the school had <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357633-bankruptcy-interview.html" target="_blank">no more than 20 students</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Lacy Jr. declined to say how many students attend St. Andrew. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s private information,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s disclosed to individuals that send a valid request.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;All I can tell you is I teach here every day,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And I give my time for the students and I care for these students that are here, and I give the education that I&rsquo;ve gained so that these students can have an education and opportunities that these students didn&rsquo;t have in the schools that they went to.&rdquo;</p><p>So far, no authorities have taken the school to account.</p><p>Troy Flint, a spokesman with Oakland Unified, said the district is a &ldquo;pass-through&rdquo; organization for federal funds and isn&rsquo;t provided the resources to check on every school.</p><p>&ldquo;If these allegations are true, then obviously, that&rsquo;s something we would put an end to because that would be an abuse of public funds,&rdquo; Flint said in an interview with CBS 5 and California Watch.</p><p>Flint said someone should do an investigation, but the district doesn&rsquo;t have the authority or capacity to do it.</p><p>&ldquo;Because we are not given regulatory powers to the degree needed to police these schools, it does allow for loopholes and for certain unscrupulous people to take advantage,&rdquo; Flint said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t say for sure that&rsquo;s what happened in this case, but there are a lot of suspicious indicators, and I do think it warrants a second look.&rdquo;</p><p>Flint suggested that the state Department of Education would have jurisdiction. But the state doesn&rsquo;t verify the numbers either, said Jane Ross, education programs consultant for the department.</p><p>&ldquo;They are filing with the superintendent of public instruction under penalty of perjury, but we don&rsquo;t have the authority to challenge the information,&rdquo; Ross said. She said she didn&rsquo;t know who would have that authority.</p><p>For years, the district&rsquo;s Board of Education has approved contracts paying Banks $100 per hour to conduct teacher training and Lacy Jr. $40 per hour to provide additional instruction for struggling students. Neither Banks nor Lacy Jr. has a teaching credential, and none is required.&nbsp;</p><p>For the 2010-11 school year, Banks received a $19,500 contract and Lacy Jr. <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357640-lacy-jr-2010-11-ousd-contract.html" target="_blank">earned</a> $12,440. Last year, Lacy Jr. also <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/366453-computers-invoice.html" target="_blank">invoiced</a> the district for $100 per hour for 30 hours to fix computers for student use.</p><p>William Nownes, who oversees private school funding for Oakland Unified, said he accepts the enrollment numbers provided by the school without further investigation. Nownes said he reviews the school&rsquo;s funding plan in meetings with Lacy Jr. and visited the school more than a year ago.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They run a compliant program to the best of my knowledge,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Nownes defers to each school to pick its preferred instructors. Nownes said he looks to make sure the instructors have a college degree, though none is required.</p><p><strong>Former students claim abuse</strong></p><p>Six former students agreed to talk to California Watch about their experiences at St. Andrew. Accompanied by their parents in separate interviews, they described a pattern of verbal and physical abuse at the school.</p><p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px; ">Butler&rsquo;s 14-year-old brother, Le&rsquo;Gerrius Holt, said Lacy Jr. &ndash; who goes by Rev. Robert at school &ndash; hit him over the head with a book in class because he had called the teacher a &ldquo;fool.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Rev. Robert said when we die &ndash; he already know we&rsquo;re going to die before him &ndash; at our funeral, he&rsquo;s going to go up to our parents and tell them not to cry because we&rsquo;re going to go to hell,&rdquo; Holt said.&nbsp;</p><p>Butler&rsquo;s 13-year-old sister, La&rsquo;asia Holt, said the elder Lacy told her, &ldquo;If I go home and tell another lie to my mother, he gonna beat me himself,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I felt threatened.&rdquo;</p><p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px; ">The siblings traded stories of abuse at St. Andrew as they sat with their mother, Yolanda Bailey, in their West Oakland home.</p><p>Bailey pulled her children out of the school this year because she said the Lacys insulted her children and didn&rsquo;t send home report cards, among other problems.</p><p><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd59PR0r99U&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">The elder Lacy</a> did not respond to an e-mail and letter sent to the school requesting comment.</p><p>Courtney Corbitt said she witnessed Lacy Jr. throw objects &ndash; like a roll of duct tape &ndash; at other students, telling her once, &ldquo;You might want to duck.&rdquo;</p><p>Genius Wesley said he saw Lacy Jr. strike other students on their heads with his hand. Wesley also said he saw Lacy Jr. throw things at students, including a book.</p><p>&ldquo;He threw it at someone else, and it almost hit me,&rdquo; Wesley said, on the phone with his father. &ldquo;He said, &lsquo;I got good aim; it wasn&rsquo;t going to hit you.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Once, when Lacy Jr. wouldn&rsquo;t let Wesley go to the bathroom, Wesley ended up urinating on himself in class, he said.</p><p>In 2009, Charlos Stewart Jr., now 12, said Lacy Jr. locked him in a room upstairs in the church as punishment for talking. Stewart had to go to the bathroom and banged on the door, but nobody came. Stewart said he broke the lock but was caught and put inside with a bigger padlock, despite begging to go to the bathroom.</p><p>Stewart went to the window, sat on the ledge and contemplated jumping from the second story, he said. Fearing that he would die, the boy turned around but slipped and fell to the ground, breaking a foot in several places, he said.&nbsp;</p><p>His mother, Catherine Joiner, took him out of the school after the incident. &ldquo;I felt so bad,&rdquo; Joiner said. &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t even look at the church.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>The Oakland Police Department has no record of any complaints about the school, said spokeswoman Lea Rubio. The Alameda County Social Services Agency, which investigates allegations of child abuse, did not respond to requests for comment.</p><p>For his part, Lacy Jr. took issue with critical questions about the school.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Is there any reason you don&rsquo;t post the positives about this school,&rdquo; he asked, &ldquo;in terms of its longevity in the community and all the families that have received aid from this school, food and clothes? Why don&rsquo;t you ask about that?&rdquo;</p><p><strong>History of benefits fraud</strong></p><p>Former students said Lacy Jr. often left his class for hours or showed up very late.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the time, he wasn&rsquo;t there,&rdquo; Corbitt said. &ldquo;Like, he wouldn&rsquo;t get there till, like, 11 o&rsquo;clock, so we would just be waiting for him.&rdquo;</p><p>Students said they hardly ever got to go outside and play or use the computers that were fixed with federal money.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357639-lacy-jr-resume.html" target="_blank">résumé</a> Lacy Jr. provided the district states that he has a bachelor&rsquo;s degree in psychology and was a candidate for a master&rsquo;s degree, though it also lists a 2010 doctorate. It doesn&rsquo;t specify any schools where he earned the degrees.&nbsp;</p><p>His ex-wife, Thalia Brown, said Lacy Jr. attended CSU Hayward and received subsequent degrees from St. Andrew Theological &amp; Academic University &ndash; which is run by the Lacys out of the church building. CSU Hayward, now called CSU East Bay, confirmed that a Robert Lacy attended from 1996 to 2000 but showed no records of a degree.</p><p>Lacy Jr. declined to answer questions about his education. California Watch asked Lacy Jr. on two occasions to provide names of St. Andrew supporters who could speak to the school&rsquo;s positive attributes. He did not provide any names.</p><p>&ldquo;You are discrediting the institution that&rsquo;s in a community where they don&rsquo;t receive any help that they need to have,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In the West Oakland area, if the (public) school system was in any way helping the students, we wouldn&rsquo;t have the problems we have in West Oakland.&rdquo;</p><p>The church&rsquo;s university advertises a <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/13401/15343.html" target="_blank">cornucopia</a> of degrees but does not have authorization to operate from the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, said Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the state Department of Consumer Affairs. After learning about the university from California Watch, the bureau is investigating whether it is violating the law, he said.</p><p>The Lacy family has a history of benefits fraud, records show. The elder Lacy <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357644-lacy-amended-judgment.html" target="_blank">pleaded guilty</a> in 2007 to a misdemeanor for taking $17,000 in Social Security payments sent to his father, who had died. The pastor also received $22,000 in other government assistance for which he was ineligible, according to the proposed <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357645-lacy-plea-agreement.html" target="_blank">plea agreement</a>.</p><p>Andrew Lacy, the pastor&rsquo;s 37-year-old son who helps with the school and soliciting, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/366460-charges.html" target="_blank">pleaded guilty</a> to felony welfare fraud in 2004, according to court records. County authorities found that he made false statements and withheld information about his income to receive $13,500 in benefits.</p><p>Then, in 2007, the state Employment Development Department obtained a $3,000 <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357646-edd-judgment.html" target="_blank">judgment</a> against him for receiving excess benefits due to fraud or misrepresentation.</p><p><a href="http://bit.ly/KYtu9f" target="_blank">Rev. Andrew</a>, as he is known by students, declined to comment.</p><p><strong>Lacys called smooth talkers</strong></p><p>Most weekday evenings, St. Andrew&rsquo;s smartly dressed students politely ask for donations at BART stations, while <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/controversial-church-sends-kids-solicit-money-bart-stations-13825" target="_blank">some say</a> they are made to beg under threat of punishment or bad grades.</p><p>Meanwhile, the pastor owns a Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition, which retailed for about $70,000 in 2006, the year he bought it. Wearing a suit and fedora, the elder Lacy sometimes waits in the background as the children ask for money.&nbsp;</p><p>While some parents objected to the street soliciting, others went along with it after school officials told them it was required.</p><p>Parents described the Lacys as smooth talkers who persuaded them to enroll their children. They were drawn to St. Andrew because they thought a small, Christian private school would be better than Oakland public schools. Some said their children were struggling and needed an alternative school environment.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Andrew (Lacy) was telling me it was one of the most accredited schools in Oakland and the grades were the highest,&rdquo; said Yolanda Bailey. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like they go out there and recruit people, mostly single women with children having trouble, who live in the bad neighborhood.&rdquo;</p><p>St. Andrew had claimed on its website to be accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International. An association official said the school was a member &ndash; not accredited. After questions from California Watch, the association contacted the school, and St. Andrew then changed its website. Another part of the website still <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/899/13848.html" target="_blank">claims</a> the school is accredited but doesn&rsquo;t specify by whom.</p><p>Since 1978, the Lacys have run St. Andrew out of a historically black church built in 1920 and declared an Oakland <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357649-landmark-designation.html" target="_blank">landmark</a>. The striking orange-and-white façade contrasts with the dilapidated side and back of the building, marked by peeling, discolored paint and boarded windows.</p><p>Gervasoni, the fire inspector, said the building is &ldquo;very old and run-down,&rdquo; and that the Lacys appear to lack the money to do much about it. He said the school needs a fire alarm system and <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/357650-fire-inspection-reports.html" target="_blank">other fixes</a>, but doesn&rsquo;t pose serious safety concerns.</p><p>The poor condition of the school shocked Rachel Elginsmith, executive director of The BASIC Fund, a San Francisco organization that funds scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools.&nbsp;</p><p>The group provided a few small scholarships to students at St. Andrew until Elginsmith visited in June 2010. &ldquo;It was a difficult visit, frankly. It&rsquo;s hard to envision children in an environment like that,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The Lacys wouldn&rsquo;t let her inside, she said. The organization immediately cut off funding.</p><p><strong>Soliciting at BART stations</strong></p><p>But BART commuters continue to hand over money to the children who ask in almost robotic repetition, &ldquo;Would you like to make a donation?&rdquo;</p><p>The street soliciting has been going on for many years, with children of all ages. Marilyn Lawson said she took her 5-year-old granddaughter out of the school a few years ago after the pastor told her she&rsquo;d have to start asking for money when she turned 6.</p><p>Courtney Corbitt remembers being packed in a van with other students &ndash; crammed in on each other&rsquo;s laps, without seat belts &ndash; as Lacy Jr. drove them to BART stations.&nbsp;</p><p>Charlos Stewart Jr. said he was robbed while collecting donations in downtown Oakland. A man took the money and ran, he said.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I was scared. It was very fast,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You had to be out there for a long time. I wouldn&rsquo;t want to be out there.&rdquo;</p><p>The father of another student, Mekhi Nosakhare, was alarmed to read in a previous <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/controversial-church-sends-kids-solicit-money-bart-stations-13825" target="_blank">California Watch story</a> that the 9-year-old was asking for donations at the Downtown Berkeley BART station late last year. At the time, the girl &ndash; whose mother is married to Andrew Lacy &ndash; said she would get in trouble if she didn&rsquo;t solicit.</p><p>Her father, Gabriel Osakhare, filed for custody of the girl because he was concerned she was being forced to &ldquo;panhandle&rdquo; and was receiving poor instruction at St. Andrew.</p><p>&ldquo;Her step-father threatened her that she will be slapped, curses at her and calls her names if she says that she does not want to go on the nightly donations which last for at least 3 hours Mon-Fri from 5-8PM,&rdquo; he wrote in a court filing.</p><p>In court records, the girl&rsquo;s mother denied the allegations and said her daughter willingly went out fundraising.</p><p>In April, a judge gave the father primary custody of the girl, ordering that she not engage in soliciting during weekends with her mother and that no corporal punishment be allowed by either parent. The judge also specified that she stay in a public elementary school where her father has enrolled her.</p> K–12 BART charity child abuse donations federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools School Alarm Tue, 05 Jun 2012 06:05:02 +0000 Will Evans 16428 at http://californiawatch.org CBS 5: Oakland school with panhandling students gets tax dollars, inflates enrollment http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/cbs-5-oakland-school-panhandling-students-gets-tax-dollars-inflates-enrollment-16797 <p>Two years ago, a CBS 5 investigation raised questions about their school and fundraising practices. Now, a joint investigation with our media partners at California Watch is raising new questions about how the school is getting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.</p> K–12 Daily Report BART charity donations federal funding Oakland Unified School District private schools video School Alarm Mon, 04 Jun 2012 09:01:01 +0000 16797 at http://californiawatch.org Controversial church sends kids to solicit money at BART stations http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/controversial-church-sends-kids-solicit-money-bart-stations-13825 <p>A West Oakland church and private school that sends children to solicit donations at BART stations has a history of financial and legal troubles, including two cases in which church leaders admitted they illegally received government assistance.</p><p>The children, including one who said he was 7 years old, have been raising funds for St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church at East Bay BART stations for hours at a time on weekday evenings. They say they are collecting money for a new 24-hour day care center for the church, which runs a small K-12 private school.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s going to be under my pastor&rsquo;s house, and we&rsquo;re going to put the pastor&rsquo;s house on top,&quot; said 9-year-old Mekhi Sade Nosakhare, standing in the Downtown Berkeley BART station without an adult present. She said she doesn&#39;t like soliciting donations every night, but if she doesn&#39;t, she said she&#39;ll get in trouble with her mother and stepfather, Andrew Lacy, who is one of the pastor&#39;s sons. Lacy, who arrived shortly after, declined to be interviewed.</p><p>The church and its pastor, <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/51212.html" target="_blank">Robert Lacy</a>, drew scrutiny last year after a <a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=88d_1275429607" target="_blank">CBS 5 investigation</a> found that they required young students to spend long hours raising money from passers-by in downtown San Francisco. At the time, the students also said they were fundraising for a new building, but the TV report raised questions about where the money was actually going.</p><p>Now, church officials have a <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/75259353/BART-permit" target="_blank">permit</a> from BART to raise funds every night from 5 to 8 p.m.</p><p>Elizabeth Curry White, the pastor&#39;s ex-wife and mother of Andrew Lacy, said the pastor has been making children raise money for many years, with nothing to show for it.</p><p>&quot;He tells my sons that he don&rsquo;t have no money, so they go out there and try to get money,&quot; White said. &quot;He takes all the money and keeps it.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd59PR0r99U&amp;feature=related" target="_blank">Robert Lacy</a>, the church&rsquo;s 79-year-old founder, sometimes watches silently in the background as his own young children solicit money. One of them, Cloella Lacy, 16, said that if they don&#39;t each collect about $50 or $75 in a night, they could get detention. Another, 12-year-old Moses Lacy, said he likes collecting money because &quot;it gives me a mind to want to look into people&#39;s eyes and get donations.&quot;</p><p>Both children were interviewed while they solicited donations in the Rockridge BART station without adult supervision. The pastor, who arrived later, declined to answer questions.</p><p>&quot;I&rsquo;m not going to tell you about it because you are a reporter, and we don&rsquo;t want to get into no lawsuit with you,&quot; Robert&nbsp;Lacy said. &quot;BART gave us privilege to come out here. That&rsquo;s all you need to know. ... Leave me alone now before I call the police on you.&quot;</p><p>Officials at St. Andrew did not respond to phone calls or e-mails.</p><p>White said she recently took her grandson away from the church so he wouldn&#39;t have to solicit money at night. The grandson, she said, was told that if he didn&#39;t raise at least $100 in a night, he would get bad grades.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Oakland Unified School District approved payments totaling $72,700 to St. Andrew school officials for teacher training and student support since October 2009. One of the pastor&#39;s sons, Robert Lacy Jr., <a href="http://ousd.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=667334&amp;GUID=F29FBD18-CD78-4A6C-BFDE-22D03780A982" target="_blank">received</a> $19,100.</p><p>The money comes from federal funding that public school districts must, by law, share with private schools. The district has little say over who receives the funds, said district spokesman Troy Flint.</p><p>Organizations like St. Andrew face minimal oversight. Unlike other charities, churches don&#39;t have to file with the state attorney general or the Internal Revenue Service. The California Department of Education doesn&#39;t regulate private schools.</p><p>From Girl Scout cookies to school magazine sales, children often are roped into fundraising. The minimum age for such soliciting in California is 6.</p><p>The Alameda County Social Services Agency, which investigates allegations of child abuse, has not investigated the church or school, said spokeswoman Sylvia Soublet. &quot;The only time we can go out and investigate is when we have a specific allegation for a specific child,&quot; she said.</p><p>White said the church hasn&#39;t been remodeled or expanded in decades. Currently, no construction permits have been requested from the city of Oakland for the pastor&#39;s or church&#39;s addresses, according to the city&#39;s community and economic development agency.</p><p>Robert Lacy brought the church to its <a href="http://www.saintambcpstu.com/752.html" target="_blank">current West Oakland location</a> in 1978. He has a history of financial problems, filing for bankruptcy in 1996 under the name Robeth Lacy and again in 2003 as Robert Lacy, both times using the same Social Security number. He and his adult sons have been sued over various financial issues, including unpaid rent.&nbsp;</p><p>In 2007, Robert Lacy pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft of government money. He failed to notify the Social Security Administration of his father&rsquo;s death and personally took about $17,000 in Social Security payments sent to his father&#39;s account after he had died, according to the <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/75260583/Lacy-Plea-Agreement" target="_blank">proposed plea agreement</a>. Robert Lacy also failed to report family property that made him ineligible to receive about $22,000 in government assistance, according to the agreement. He&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/75263961/Amended-Judgment" target="_blank">had to pay back</a> the money through deductions to his monthly government checks and was given three years&#39; probation and a $1,000 fine.</p><p>&quot;I thought he was a very nice guy when I met him,&quot; said Peter Clerides, his defense attorney in that case. &quot;He didn&rsquo;t strike me as someone who would intentionally be involved in anything that was beyond the letter of the law.&quot;</p><p>The church filed for bankruptcy in 2004. At the time, it was facing a lawsuit brought by the mother of a former student who, when she was 4 years old, was allegedly mauled and disfigured by a Rottweiler at the school in 1993.</p><p>The lawsuit claimed the dog belonged to Andrew Lacy, the pastor&#39;s son, but the Lacys denied ownership. The church wrote in court filings that the injured girl and her mother &quot;had full knowledge of all the risks, dangers and hazards, if any there were&quot; and &quot;failed to use that degree of care and caution for their own safety which a reasonably prudent person would have used.&quot; The church settled the dispute for $70,000 in 2006, according to court records.</p><p>Separately, in 2004, Alameda County obtained a $13,000 court judgment against Andrew Lacy. According to court filings, Andrew Lacy <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/75822223/Alameda-County-v-Andrew-Lacy" target="_blank">admitted</a> that he &quot;fraudulently received public assistance benefits&quot; from the county &quot;by submitting false written statements under penalty of perjury.&quot;</p><p>As of 2004, the church served a congregation of 50 people, had an unpaid staff, and survived on donations and fundraising, according to an interview with a church representative as part of the bankruptcy proceeding.&nbsp;The school had 20 or fewer students and emphasized Bible training, according to the interview.<span style="font-weight: bold;"> </span>That same year, however, the church reported to the state that it had 195 students, the same number it reported this year.</p><p>A bankruptcy trustee attorney found that the church brought in a total of $47,129 after more than a year in bankruptcy and that it had a negative cash balance and bad check fees. A bankruptcy judge dismissed the church&#39;s case when it failed to submit filings on time.</p><p>Among other creditors, the church owed money to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Agencies like soup kitchens and churches that distribute for the food bank pay a small fee that helps cover costs. St. Andrew owed about $1,000, a relatively large debt, said food bank spokesman Michael Altfest. The food bank had to write it off as bad debt and no longer partners with St. Andrew, Altfest said.</p><p>Oakland resident Deborah Carney said she enrolled her daughter at St. Andrew a couple of years ago because the pastor initially seemed to understand her child&#39;s learning needs. But Carney pulled her daughter from the program, she said, because the church was making her solicit money until late at night.</p><p>&quot;One of the teachers said, &#39;You&rsquo;re not leaving until you make my money,&#39; &quot; Carney said. &quot;It would be like 10, 11 o&#39;clock at night when they got home.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>When Carney tried to exempt her daughter from the fundraising, she said the pastor refused.</p><p>&quot;He was like, &#39;No. You can&rsquo;t give her permission. She can&rsquo;t leave,&#39; &quot; Carney said.</p><p>Carney said church officials also pressured her to attend services as a condition of her daughter&#39;s enrollment. She said the congregation appeared to be made up mostly of the pastor&#39;s family members.</p><p>White, the pastor&#39;s ex-wife, said she is concerned about the children who attend St. Andrew.</p><p>&quot;I worry about them, &#39;cause I know how he did me and my kids,&quot; she said. &quot;But there&#39;s nothing I can do.&quot;</p> K–12 Daily Report BART charity child welfare children fraud fundraising Oakland private schools religion welfare School Alarm Wed, 21 Dec 2011 08:05:03 +0000 Will Evans 13825 at http://californiawatch.org Will Evans/California Watch St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and Private School in West Oakland