Last week a group of parents went to Liberty Charter School in Nampa to gain access to financial records after filing a public records request in January. June Blackhurst, Jennifer Taylor, Laurie Boechel and Jennifer Taylor handed over their findings to the state attorney general and the governor's office and asked the agencies to review what they described as "questionable bookkeeping practices." Both offices have agreed to look into the situation.
"It (the bookkeeping) made the Mayor Coles thing look like pennies," Blackhurst said.
The group of parents claim that officials at Liberty Charter School watched their every move while they were making copies of the public school's financial records, in addition the school charged the group $195 dollars for its public records request. Under Idaho law agencies may establish a fee to recover labor costs for voluminous or complex requests. The group also says it has learned Liberty Charter School paid $13,000 in IRS penalty fees. They also claim to have found numerous bills without proper documentation including an $1,800 American Express bill allegedly incurred by Principal Becky Stallcop and a $42,000 check to Chips, a computer company for technology work.
"In the public school system, anything over $20,000 is supposed to be bid out," Blackhurst said.
One of the most controversial and complicated aspects of the group's findings was the information learned about the Harbor Method, the method of teaching used by the school. The Harbor Method has been copyrighted and incorporated as nonprofit organization by Stallcop, KTVB news anchor Dee Sarton, her husband Terry Bower and Liberty teacher Machel Stimpson. There were numerous checks written to Bower and a number of trips that Bower took that were poorly documented, including a $3,000 tour that Bower and Sarton took to Washington D.C. last year for a national charter school conference…
Liberty Charter School
TOO MUCH LIBERTY AT LIBERTY? Allegations of fiscal mismanagement at Nampa charter school; February 17, 2004; Boise Weekly (ID)