The principal of a Woodland Hills-based non-profit charter high school that receives close to $32 million annually in public funding is under fire for charging more than $100,000 of indulgences on his school-issued American Express credit card over the course of two years.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the school has hired a forensic private investigator and is seeking help from a state financial management consultant to get to the bottom of the situation.
Among notable charges made by El Camino Real Charter High School Principal David Fehte, 55, were $15,500 at Monty’s Steakhouse; $3,780 for two first class tickets to Hawaii for him and the school’s assistant principal for the school’s 2014 Academic Decathlon; $6,700 for a trip to Michigan; and $5,700 in flowers charged both by Fehte and other school administrators.
The financial probe will reportedly begin early next month and will be conducted by by Oracle of Chino Hills. By the time the investigation is done in early September, it will have cost approximately $20,000.
LAist notes that Fehte characterized the luxurious spending as a serious of minor mistakes. He has also reportedly offered to reimburse the school for the misused funds, although it is not clear whether that includes the $20,000 for the investigation. LAist reports that a result of the abuse, the Los Angeles Unified School District has downgraded El Camino Real’s charter school financial rating from a 4 to a 1.
Back in October, the LAUSD had reportedly issued a district-wide warning called a “Notice of Cure” against Fehte and other El Camino Real school officials for their high spending on the school’s credit cards.
However, LAist points out that part of the problem is that the LAUSD does not have a specific set of rules regarding school credit card use. LAUSD’s central business adviser Aaron Eairleywine told the Daily News, “there is nothing here that indicates they have done anything outside the law … We’re not done with the review yet, but we don’t expect it will yield anything along those lines.”
In 2015, a San Jose middle school teacher spent over $2,600 on jewelry using the school’s credit card to help finance her side business as independent stylist for an online fashion company.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz