If money-sucking scams are like vampire squids, then the A3 charter scandal had its tentacles all over California. Nineteen online charter schools pulled in thousands of students (some real, some not) from counties up and down the state. With each student came dollars — roughly $400 million of them. But new lawsuits reveal the money didn’t stop flowing at California’s border.
Sean McManus and Jason Schrock, who pleaded guilty in February to charges that they led a conspiracy to defraud the public, invested millions of dollars in taxpayer funds into charter school operations in other states. One deal pushed $1.9 million through a company called Fusion Ed in Utah for the “acquisition of various charter schools located in Arizona, Colorado and Ohio,” according to one lawsuit. In another, $1.3 million went to a company called Zia Learning in Illinois.
A third investment in Texas poured $5 million into a for-profit venture called eSchool Prep, which was being set up by the superintendent of El Paso schools and a former school board member, the lawsuit alleges. That superintendent has since resigned.