ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona school officials seek return of more than $5M from ASU Prep

Apr 26, 2019, 4:48 AM

(Facebook Photo/ASU Preparatory Academy)...

(Facebook Photo/ASU Preparatory Academy)

(Facebook Photo/ASU Preparatory Academy)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Education and the charter school run by Arizona State University are battling over $5.3 million in funding the state wants ASU Prep to return.

“What ended up happening was ASU Prep received funds that they were never statutorily allowed to receive,” Stefan Swiat, department spokesman, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

Swiat said ASU Preparatory Academy has been getting state funding intended for public charter schools with enrollment under 600.

ASU Prep is a network of K-12 schools with enrollment exceeding 2,000 at campuses in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Casa Grande.

The error – Swiat called it “a misinterpretation of statue” – was discovered in November 2018.

That was around the time of the election in which voters chose Democrat Kathy Hoffman to replace Diane Douglas, who lost in the Republican primary, as superintendent of public instruction.

“The new administration inherited this issue and conferred with their counsel and saw that they have to enact the law, which is that ASU wasn’t meant by law to receive these funds,” Swiat said.

After being notified about situation, ASU Prep filed an appeal, something Swiat said the state encouraged.

In a statement emailed to KTAR News on Thursday, ASU Prep CEO Beatriz Rendón said she hopes the matter can be resolved quickly.

“Since the Arizona Department of Education has long authorized small-school weight funding for the ASU Preparatory Academy, the school has budgeted accordingly,” she said.

“At this time, ASU Prep is focused on minimizing any impact on students, teachers and staff and working with ADE to quickly resolve this issue in order to maintain the highest quality learning environment possible for ASU Prep students and families.”

Swiat said the state would like to reach a settlement with ASU Prep.

“This is not the end for ASU,” Swiat said. “They were just merely being reminded that this law is on the books and ADE has to enforce it.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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Arizona school officials seek return of more than $5M from ASU Prep