Contact 13 Investigates
State finds Quest Academy violated law
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Collusion and cover-up. Misappropriation of tax dollars and violations of state law.
That's what the state has documented at a local school that's been the subject of a Contact 13 "You Paid for It" investigation.
Chief Investigator Darcy Spears explains why the school could be shut down if they don't clean up their act.
"Attitude reflects leadership, and we have none of it here. None! The governing board? None! Here? None!" said math teacher Matt Giglia on November 14.
His was just one of the tempers that flared at the November 14th board meeting at Quest Academy--a taxpayer-funded charter school with three campuses and about 1,000 students.
"I ask questions and that's why I am black-balled apparently from this school right now! Ok? This is ridiculous!" added teacher Stacey Soiferman at the same meeting.
The State Public Charter School Authority has been investigating multiple concerns from school staff, teachers, parents and one board member.
The concerns included three $5,000 checks cut to Quest Principal Connie Jordan.
"The documentation definitely shows that the three checks that were written to Ms. Jordan were definitely a bonus," said Lucretia Glidewell, Quest's former financial manager and one of the people who filed formal complaints with the SPCSA.
Board President Christina Fuentes signed all three checks. In the response she sent to the SPCSA, she says one of the checks was a withdrawal from the Public Employees Retirement System.
But that simply isn't possible, because there's no way to get PERS money until you're retired.
"You can't monkey with the public system," Glidewell points out.
Quest said the second check was a cash-out of Jordan's unused personal time off--which they say is authorized in her contract.
"That contract for 2010-2011 does not in any way, shape or form indicate the privilege of having personal time bought out," Glidewell says.
We checked, and it's not in the contract that was in effect for the time when the checks were written. That language was added after the fact to Jordan's current contract.
Quest's third explanation for the money in question was that Jordan earned about $1200 in extra duty. But the money isn't accounted for and the math on the three checks simply doesn't add up.
Darcy: It looks like there's a cover-up in progress here.
Lucretia: And I believe that yes, it looks like that.
It looks like the state believes that too. In a letter sent to Quest today, the state calls the board's accounting "inadequate," their explanations "inaccurate and contradictory."
They say the fact "that three $5,000 checks dated the same day to Connie Jordan were signed by the board president suggest an improper $15,000 payment to Ms. Jordan, circumvention of board policies and may represent collusion by Ms. Jordan and the board president."
The state wants Jordan to return the $15,000 to the school's general fund.
And they say Christina Fuentes should be immediately replaced on the school board.
The state also found that Jordan's employment contract was altered in response to the Authority's concerns.
"I believe that there needs to be a total revamping, from the governing board down to the administration," Glidewell said.
The state agrees. They're recommending radical change at Quest in order to restore parents' and the Authority's confidence, including replacing Connie Jordan and the entire current board.
They say if the school fails to act appropriately, they could lose their charter.
The state noted that there are other outstanding issues, like the manipulation of test scores, being investigated by other agencies.
And Metro is looking into an extortion claim. The principal is accused of demanding kickbacks from the financial manager in order for her to keep her job.
We spoke to Connie Jordan on the phone today and she said her attorney has advised her not to comment at this time.
No one from the board returned our calls.