The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to award a $77,000 contract to a charter school that is under investigation by the state Department of Education for alleged financial mismanagement and questions about administrative oversight.
Victorville-based California Charter Academy, the state's largest operator of charter schools, was one of 18 agencies that won county contracts to provide summer programs for youths between 14 and 21. The programs will offer tutoring; teach study skills, occupational training and leadership development; and provide career guidance and adult mentoring.
Supervisor Dennis Hansberger was the only member of the board who voted against the contract, saying he was concerned about approving funding for a company that is under investigation for allegedly misusing public funds.
The other supervisors did not comment.
A spokesman for Supervisor Bill Postmus said later that Postmus knew about the investigation but did not oppose the contract because the investigation has yet to conclude if California Charter Academy is guilty.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell launched the investigation and audit of California Charter Academy in March, citing questions about how much the group's schools spend on teacher and administrative overhead. The audit has yet to be completed. This month, school superintendents in San Bernardino and Orange counties announced plans to assist with the investigation.
Last year the state docked academy nearly $6 million and cut its home-school budget by a third. The academy has sued to recover the funding.
Lisa Woolery, a spokeswoman for California Charter Academy, declined to comment Tuesday.
Charter schools are publicly funded, independent schools that enjoy some freedom from state regulations.
The organization operates four campuses -- three in San Bernardino County and one in Orange County -- plus 50 satellite sites serving more than 9,000 students from Butte to San Diego counties.
Education officials said a state advisory panel had been looking into complaints about California Charter Academy for years. One matter under investigation is whether the academy violated a law against operating satellite sites without local oversight, according to state education officials.