August 24, 2011; Source: Lodi News-Sentinel | Questions about the integrity of your organization do tend to exert a deleterious effect on fundraising. That’s why it is important to avoid the appearance—as well as, of course, the reality—of misbehavior in program activities. Just ask Ken Davis, a school board trustee and the head of an educational foundation in Lodi, California.

The story is this: The principal at Lodi’s Liberty High School was accused of changing grades in order to qualify pupils for a free after-school program at Humphreys College in nearby Stockton. The Humphreys program was created and funded by Davis’s organization, the Achievement Gap Educational Foundation. A lawyer hired by the district to investigate the grade-changing scandal recently released a report that included charges by district employees that the principal changed the grades with the support and perhaps at the request of Davis himself.

Davis is unhappy both with the lawyer’s report and with the coverage of the scandal by the local paper, the Lodi News-Sentinel. Davis claims that the News-Sentinel called the funders of his foundation to make them aware of the alleged grade-changing incident and that half of them then declined to continue funding the foundation. However, the newspaper also reported that two of the corporate sponsors listed on the foundation’s website—Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and General Mills—say that they have never contributed to the foundation.

As a result of the loss of funding, Davis’s foundation is pulling out of the Humphrey’s after-school program. For his part, Davis announced that he would not run for re-election to the school board. The lawyer’s report intimated that there were conflicts of interest regarding Davis, but that the scope of her work didn’t allow her to investigate those issues, and the school board seems disinclined to dig further.—Rick Cohen