Nonprofit Newswire | Whistleblower Suit on Charter School

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February 5, 2010; Philadelphia Inquirer | A longtime federal investigation of Philadelphia’s first charter school, The Community Academy Charter School, and a related nonprofit, International Education and Community Initiatives—also known as One Bright Ray—was apparently sparked by the charter school’s former chief operating officer. She claims to have provided the information to the feds about the charter’s and nonprofit’s financial mismanagement and nepotism (several members of the CEO’s family earned salaries and consulting fees) which earned her a termination from the organization. The CEO claims to have been unaware that she had provided the information leading toward the investigation and a federal raid on the premises, though the ex-COO’s complaint includes the feds identifying her by name during the raid, the CEO asking her the next day if she had been involved, and then firing her despite consistently good performance appraisals. Her whistleblower suit contends that she has been unable to find a job since her dismissal last fall. This charter school’s long-running soap opera has harmed the charter school movement in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Whether or not the COO was improperly terminated for blowing the whistle, there seems to have been enough bad stuff going on that, whistle or not, federal intervention and investigation was amply justifiable.—Rick Cohen