On a day Harney charter school was supposed to transfer about $10,000 in retirement contributions to its employees’ accounts, the school only had $133 in its operating account. It didn’t make the payment.
On that same day, Harney’s board account had $537,562.
Over the next three months, the school improperly withheld at least $55,000 from employees’ retirement accounts. That money wasn’t paid until early January and mid February.
The Lens examined 1,200 pages of financial documents obtained through a public records request and learned the school routinely had money in its board account while the school’s operating account was stretched thin.
The school’s board president and former chief financial officer are at odds when explaining how money was transferred between the two accounts.
The late retirement payments didn’t include any interest or money to account for what employees may have made in investments.
Those delays could violate federal tax guidelines.
In a similar case in Baltimore, delays in retirement transfers led to two civil lawsuits against the CEO of a drug rehab and mental health nonprofit. He later pleaded guilty to theft for taking $53,000 from his employees’ 403(b) accounts in 2009 and 2010, using the money to pay company expenses.
Two green construction dumpsters with “DANGER asbestos” warnings taped on them sat in front of the old McDonogh 35 building on Kerlerec Street Thursday morning. They were sealed with plastic and bright orange tape.
The building was supposed to be a safe haven this fall for relocated Lafayette Academy students. That school has been temporarily shuttered after a state inspection found that it may be contaminated with asbestos due to summer construction work.
But this week, Lafayette parents learned that McDonogh 35 also needed a clean-up after contractors — working on the air conditioning system — disturbed asbestos-containing material.
Lafayette parents knew there was asbestos in McDonogh 35, Tuere Jones, who has two kids enrolled at the school, told The Lens in an interview. But the building was safe until construction workers installing pipes above the school’s ceiling tiles accidentally disturbed asbestos-containing insulation, possibly releasing asbestos into the school.
Asbestos is dangerous when it is airborne. The Orleans Parish school district ordered an immediate evacuation of the campus Monday to protect workers.