Espiritu Schools

Payments: No other large charter school has as many transactions involving family members as Espiritu Schools in south Phoenix. Armando Ruiz is the founder and a board member for Espiritu, a non-profit that operates three schools on one property. He also is on the board of a separate non-profit, called the A Group, that gets paid by Espiritu to handle non-academic functions of the school such as technology, sports, parent involvement, bookkeeping and human resources. This allows educators to focus solely on academics, he said.

Ruiz’s schools also pay rent to a third non-profit, called Project America, that owns the land and whose president and board are made up of Ruiz’s brother, sister and nephew. That non-profit, in turn, donates a chunk of its money to a charity, Mary’s Ministries, founded by the Ruizes’ mother, Estella Ruiz, that trains community leaders to conduct spiritual workshops. Over the last five years, Espiritu has paid $615,624 in salaries to nine members of the Ruiz family who also served on the Espiritu board...

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