PUEBLO/DENVER — The Board of Directors of Pueblo’s Youth and Family Academy (YAFA) were scheduled to appear before officials at the Colorado Department of Education Wednesday due to concerns the board has with The Career Building Academy, who has controlled of much of the school’s operations since August 2015. The hearing scheduled for yesterday grew out of a request by the (Colorado) Charter School Institute who had asked the Colorado Department of Education for a forensic audit and possible fraud review. An earlier TCBA audit, reviewed by the institute, indicated there were improper or no records for some expenditures. Then interim-CDE assistant commissioner of education Elliott Asp order TCBA executives to provide ‘adequate documentation and access’ of financial records along with student and teacher attendance records for the institute’s review. TCBA was mandated to provide the records within 24 hours after receiving the November 11, 2015 order but the institutes reported they did not receive the final information requested until December 11. Concerns noted in the request to the state education department for the financial records included no documentation in some areas, inadequate documentation for some cash transactions, listed loans without promissory notes, reimbursement payments for TCBA Founder and President Rick Johnson, signed by Johnson and records of purchases made at a buyers club using a Johnson Plumbing membership ( Rick Johnson’s Colorado Springs-based plumbing company) alleged to have included more than $300 in personal items. Other items concerning the institute found in the supplied documentation included a note of a $10,000 payment to TCBA Executive Director Joy Cress-Morales listed as a payment for contract services, but it was reported, supporting documentation showed it as a $100,000 lan between TCBA and the executive director. At least 32 banking fees for insufficient funds or extended overdraft fees in three TCBA checking accounts were found, including an over $12,000 withdrawal from the Pueblo account in the form of a cashier’s check that had no supporting documentation for its purpose. The board has also voiced concern with TCBA’s dismissal of YAFA principal Alan Neims and his assistant principal just weeks after taking over operations at the Pueblo school. The YAFA board had hired Neims for the position. The YAFA board says it has a yea or nay right regarding any candidate for the principal and assistant principal positions per an in-place management agreement.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward