Veritas company resigns from The Village Charter

Board members at The Village Charter School accepted the resignation of the school’s business and financial oversight contractor at a special meeting on Friday morning.

The move comes amid concerns from the Public Charter School Commission that The Village might have to close its doors after years of financial instability.

Lori Manning

The five board members present on Friday voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Veritas Charter School Services Llc., following a two-hour executive session where the board discussed an evaluation of  the school’s business manager and it’s executive director — and Veritas founder — Lori Manning.

Afterward, the board members voted on a motion to “accept the resignation of the Veritas organization, with acknowledgement of a working relationship through a smooth transition.”

Board chairman Ben Greenwood was tight-lipped about what the board discussed in executive session.

He said the factors that contributed to the Veritas resignation will be “fully fleshed out” in a financial review that the school has commissioned from a company called MAST Financial Group, Llc.

Adam Holcomb, CEO of MAST Financial, said during Friday’s meeting that the review is complete, but that the company is still working on compiling a full report.

Greenwood expects that report next week. The findings, he told EdNews will be a “key piece of information” related to whether the school will be able to recover from its financial challenges.

The details of exactly how The Village plans to separate with Veritas remain unclear. The school’s original contract with Veritas lasted through 2020 and required that The Village pay 9 percent of all income to the company. The school takes in nearly $3 million in tax dollars a year and teaches nearly 500 students.

In a letter to the board late last year, charter commission director Tamara Baysinger called the Veritas contract “significantly more expensive than the industry standard.”

The board will elaborate on Veritas’ resignation with a statement issued in the coming days, secretary Jake Hays said in the meeting.

Asked for comment on the Veritas resignation, Manning said: “I think it’s best for both parties.”

Friday’s special board meeting was announced late Wednesday. Hours before, EdNews informed Greenwood that Manning had admitted to violating Ethics laws in South Carolina in a written agreement with the state’s Ethics Commission.

Greenwood was aware that Manning had been under investigation in South Carolina, he told EdNews, but did not know she had admitted to ethics violations.

Hays, the board secretary, pointed out during the meeting that “there have been no particulars that indicate wrongdoing” by Veritas at The Village.

“We are just parting ways,” he said.

Greenwood said the board is still working out specifics as to how The Village will manage business and financial matters moving forward, without Veritas.

“We’ll do what’s best for the school,” he said.

At the Friday meeting, The Village board also read a written response to an Idaho EdNews story regarding the school’s financial status.

The one-page statement says “as a Board we take stewardship of our public charter school very seriously.” It makes note of the independent financial review and says the EdNews story failed to mention improvements at the school, like student enrollment and retention and new programs.

“At this time we want to reassure our constituents not to be of immediate worry,” the letter says, “And of our resolve to see this school continue to improve and succeed.”

Sami Edge

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