- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A recently released Oklahoma audit says a foundation that operates some Tulsa and Oklahoma City charter schools has billed the public millions of dollars more in lease payments for its school buildings than the foundation originally paid to purchase and rent the spaces.

According to the audit, the Sky Foundation has collected nearly $3.2 million more in lease payments for the use of the Oklahoma City-based Dove Science Academy site than it paid to purchase the property, The Oklahoman reported. However, an attorney for Dove denied the schools were overcharged.

“We could find no legitimate purpose for the continued charging of lease payments above and beyond the purchase price of the facility,” auditors said.

Auditors also found that the foundation collected more than $1.9 million in public fund lease payments from the Dove Charter Schools than the foundation paid to lease those other schools. This collection happened over a two-year period, from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014.

“This has been going on for a long time,” state Auditor Gary Jones said. “We just looked at a couple of years.”

Dove attorney Drew Edmondson issued a statement Thursday afternoon to The Associated Press saying there is no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal actions and that all funds collected by Sky were spent on Dove schools and for educational purposes.

“The audit recently released by the State Auditor and Inspector leaves an impression of impropriety when there were no such findings,” according to Edmondson.

The Sky Foundation manages Dove Science Elementary and Dove Science Academy in Oklahoma City as well as Dove Science Academy and Discovery School in Tulsa.

Auditors saw that school foundations are normally created to give financial assistance to schools but that the Sky Foundation didn’t operate that way.

“We did not find any evidence of Sky soliciting funds on behalf of the schools or donating funds to the schools,” auditors said. “It appears the schools were supporting Sky instead of Sky supporting the schools.”


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com



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