St. Hope Board Member Steps Down

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The New York Sun

A new charter school in Harlem, the St. Hope Leadership Academy, has lost a member of its board who has been suspended from doing business with the federal government.

On Wednesday, the board member, Dana Gonzalez, was placed on a government-wide list of people ineligible for federal grants and contracts. The action followed an investigation into alleged misuse of federally funded AmeriCorps members assigned to a Sacramento, Calif.-based organization, St. Hope Academy, which helped set up the Harlem school.

The new school’s principal, Ventura Rodriguez, said in an e-mail to The New York Sun yesterday that Ms. Gonzalez stepped down from its board “this fall” as a result of her resignation on August 1 as the developer of new schools for the California group. Her departure from the board came on Friday, an official with the New York City Department of Education said.

Ms. Gonzalez could not be reached for comment for this article.

City and state officials indicated last week that they were studying the impact on the charter school of the federal suspension directed at Ms. Gonzalez, St. Hope of Sacramento, and its founder, Kevin Johnson. The Harlem academy is legally independent of the California organization, but Ms. Gonzalez’s presence on the local school’s board could have complicated its ability to receive federal funds passed along by the state.

The suspension roiled the mayor’s race in Sacramento, where Mr. Johnson, a former basketball star, is challenging the incumbent. “Let us vote for mayor of Sacramento without these irresponsible and premature allegations,” Mr. Johnson’s lawyer, Matthew Jacobs, said yesterday. “Several of them just didn’t happen. To the extent that there are ones that happened, they were mistakes and they certainly don’t rise to the level of criminality.”

An inspector general’s report on the alleged misuse of AmeriCorps staff for personal and political purposes is being reviewed by federal prosecutors, but no charges have been filed.

The New York Sun

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