Audit shows charter fraud

Oak Hills Academy had a mess of trouble, some possibly criminal

An audit of the controversial Oak Hills Academy, a charter school operated until October 2007 at the Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley, has found “potential for alleged fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal practices,” including nepotism and falsified attendance figures, and urged the Butte County Office of Education to turn the matter over to the district attorney’s office.

No names were named, but the principle figures at the school were its founders, Lee Funk and Josh Cook, and its principal, Jill Kahn, and all were easily identifiable by positions in the audit report. For example, the audit charges that the principal hired her own mother as a teacher (the highest paid one at the school) and her father as a maintenance man, as well as friends for other positions.

The audit was done by Petaluma-based Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team for the BCOE.

Funk and Cook applied last year to open a charter high school in Chico, but the trustees of the Chico school district turned them down.