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Pa. AG says Roberto Clemente Charter School reimbursements improper

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 13 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 15 2013 05:21:20 AM CDT

Pennsylvania's Auditor General says Allentown's Roberto Clemente Charter School is playing foul.

Pennsylvania's Auditor General says Allentown's Roberto Clemente Charter School is playing foul.

It's one of six charter schools named in a report about receiving improper reimbursements.

This involves more than $550,000 from improper lease reimbursements.

"My instinct is that the issue is much bigger," Depasquale said.

The investigation focused on lease reimbursements. Auditor General DePasquale says school took leases on buildings they owned or already had a financial interest in.

Since 2006 the Queen City school has improperly taken nearly $192,000, more than any other school named.

But the auditor general says the schools made honest mistakes.

"We found no intention of trying to subvert the rules," DePasquale said.

But the investigation didn't stop there.

It also revealed Roberto Clemente violated state regulations by not having at least 75% of its teachers, including one for special education, properly certified during the 2009-2010 school. As well employing a principal without the proper certification for several years starting in 2007.

Damian Romero has been the principal for a year and does have his proper certification.

"Charter schools are allowed to have 25% of their teaching staff as non-certified. However we do make sure they are highly qualified," Romero stated.

But when pressed that 25% weren't, he said, "If that is the finding, the school board has to review and they can respond to that."

DePasquale is asking the schools to repay the money but admits the schools aren't required to do so.