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Auditor questions charter school admin travel expenditures

Jen French
October 12, 2017 10:14 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The state auditor is questioning why top charter school administrators are traveling on the taxpayer's dime

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Great Academy Charter School Executive Director Jasper Matthews and founder Keisha Matthews went to Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Florida with their daughter, also a school employee. The trio attended the International Association for K-12 Online Learning Conference.

They stayed at the Omni hotel in Washington, D.C. while they attended the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

The tab for the two trips was $8,500.

In total, the state auditor claims the school went $16,000 over its travel and conference fee budget in fiscal year 2016. The three school staffers traveled for professional enrichment, but the state wants to know if it is money well spent.

"At the end of the day that money is supposed to go to those students and to the school," State Auditor Tim Keller said. "I know it’s indirectly related, and I understand that people go to conferences, but at the end of the day I can’t see how the dollars could not have been better used in the classroom."

In a letter to the state auditor's office, Great Academy Charter School Executive Director Jasper Matthews claims the trips were necessary. Matthews adds that there is “no travel budget limit” for non-profits.

The Great Academy Charter School was scrutinized by state auditors last March for having among the highest paid administrators in the state, yet the lowest paid teachers.

According to the Public Education Department, Executive Director Jasper Matthews and founder Keisha Matthews are among the highest paid administrators in the state. Combined, the married couple earned more than $300,000 last year. With their daughter working at the school, 30 percent of the school’s budget is going to one family.

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Jen French

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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