Our tax dollars aren’t properly funding charter school’s in MN.

Yesterday I read an article in the Star Tribune about how Joel Pourier stole more than $1 million from a charter school in Minneapolis. Pourier was hired by the school in 2002 as a finance director and was later promoted to executive director. When he applied for the position he listed on his resume that he had an MBA, it took 5 years for someone to figure out that he was lying about the degree! During those 5 years Pourier was able to embezzle $1.38 million from the charter school.

Pourier’s careless actions cut into the school’s funding for field trips, updated science and computer labs, and teachers pay. He then used the money to support his mistress and purchase expensive cars. When people from the school began asking questions  about Pourier’s finances, he lied and said that he was a member of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux.

Pourier is also responsible for writing 124 bad checks. He directed the money that he embezzled into 6 different bank accounts that he controlled. Pourier pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with a requirement of serving at least 7 years.

Pourier deserves what he is getting for stealing the money, but what about the kids?  Heart of the Earth was a Native American school that had been around for 37 years. Due to Pourier’s action the school lost its license and was forced to close down in 2008.  250 students ranging from kindergarten through high school were left without a school to attend. A lot of the students who attended the school didn’t enroll into other school’s after it was closed. How did Pourier prepare them to be successful within society?

What disappoints me the most (as a person of color) is that Pourier is a person of color. I believe that the best way to rebuild an infrastructure is by education the youth from an early age. But embezzling money from a resource that is suppose to help your people, is counterproductive. I don’t know what could have possibly been going through Pourier’s mind when he was taking the money?

Another thing that baffled me about this story was that it took the MN legislative auditor until 2008 to discover that there was a lack of monitoring at some charter schools, which have been  funded by tax dollars since 1991. The state isn’t even responsible for catching Pourier, the schools bookkeeper Mona Stegeman was the one that reported him.

Another issue that I’m having is that Congressman John Kline from CD2 is the Senior Republican Member of the Education & Labor committee. What has he been doing to address this issue? From what I have seen, he hasn’t been doing anything to bring reform to guaranty that charter school spending is properly monitored.

Joel Pourier isn’t the only one to blame for this big mess, it extends beyond his act of embezzling money. Congressman Kline is responsible for not creating legislation that would stop these types of crimes from taking place. What is he doing  in D.C.?