Public High School Principal Who Charged $100K To School Credit Card Resigns
The principal of Woodland Hills' El Camino Real Charter High School formally resigned on Wednesday, concluding a months long scandal over an enormous sum of school money spent on (extremely) non-academic purposes, according to the L.A. Daily News. Over a course of three years, former principal David Fehte managed to spend more than $100,000 of school money frivoled away on things like $100 bottles of wine, $400 luxury hotel rooms and $1,890 first-class tickets to Hawaii. Five of the school's seven board members will also be resigning in the next four months.
The trouble at El Camino was first revealed in warning issued by LAUSD back in October of 2015. When the Daily News followed up with an investigation into the school's finances, the paper learned that an enormous amount of ostensibly public money had been spent on items and services that served no educational purpose. Among the charges listed above, Fehte charged $15,500 at Monty's Prime Steak & Seafood restaurant to his school-issued credit card. El Camino hired a private investigator to scrutinize the school's financial records in June.
As the gravity of the mismanagement became more evident, LAUSD offered the El Camino a stiff ultimatum: get your house in order, or lose your charter and revert back to district control. This process began in August, and played out as a back-and-forth between the district and the school on terms and conditions that would enable the school to retain its charter status. The district argued El Camino wasn't adhering to proper transparency and accounting procedures, and El Camino officials retorted that they were.
That process didn't go very well, and LAUSD nearly issued formal "intention to revoke" El Camino's charter status on October 18. Nevertheless, the school and the LAUSD board reached a last minute agreement on the same day that allows El Camino Real High School to continue operating as a charter school.
Per the terms of the agreement, Principal David Fehte was to immediately resign, followed by five of the school's seven board members over the next few months. The agreement also allows LAUSD to appoint a person of its choice to the school's board, requires board meetings to be held in open sessions, and includes higher standards of finincial accountability.
LAUSD, of course, doesn't technically have any rules governing how school staff and administrators are supposed to use credit cards. As LAUSD's central business adviser Aaron Eairleywine explained to the Daily News in June, "there is nothing here that indicates they have done anything outside the law."
According to El Camino officials, Fehte has reimbursed the school approximately $6,000 for "inadvertent personal" expenses made on his school-issued American Express card. In a written statement, Fehte explained, "I am personally disappointed with the unnecessary way that the media chose to unjustly sensationalize ECR operational inefficiencies." 🙄 .