Lewis and Aiken took turns explaining the problems at the small charter school. The school has been plagued by financial mismanagement, Aiken said, noting that the school’s bank statements were addressed to the Carondelet Street church where the board president, the Rev. Charles Southall, serves as pastor. Meanwhile, Southall’s home address in Baton Rouge is the one that Harney listed with the state agency that distributes per-pupil funding to schools, another potential violation.That's a good old fashioned public school being ripped off by some politically connected preachers right there. That's the way we used to do things in this city. The quasi-privatization charter hell is just window dressing, really.
She also noted the school improperly withheld tens of thousands of dollars in employee retirement contributions for weeks or months and did not fully document credit card expenses.
It's also got our favorite bank.
In an audit that examined the 2016-17 school year, auditors randomly checked purchases on one credit card statement. They said they couldn’t find receipts to back up two of the three purchases that month.
They also noted that Harney’s accounting handbook had no policy on how to handle credit cards.
In response, school officials sent an undated policy to the district in January. “The school credit card is utilized at the discretion of the Board President,” it said.
The new policy requires charges to be approved by the chief financial officer — the same administrator facing ethics charges.
Monthly statements show the card was issued by First NBC Bank and had a $20,000 credit limit.
“We discontinued doing credit cards in” — Southall paused. “When did the bank close? 2016. At the end of that, that was the end of it.”
First NBC Bank was declared insolvent in April 2017. Weeks earlier, Ashton Ryan Jr., the bank’s president CEO — and a Harney board member — stepped down from the financial institution.
He remained on the charter board and later asked his name to be removed from financial documents.