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IDEA Public Schools parts ways with CEO, chief operating officer following audit

4 months 4 weeks 11 minutes ago Tuesday, May 25 2021 May 25, 2021 May 25, 2021 5:43 PM May 25, 2021 in News - Local
By: KRGV Digital

IDEA Public Schools has parted ways with CEO JoAnn Gama and Chief Operating Officer Irma Munoz following a forensic audit that found the leaders were misusing funds, according to a letter released Tuesday by acting CEO Al Lopez.

The IDEA school board took action against its former top officers after receiving anonymous emails that alleged misuse of IDEA resources, Lopez stated in the letter. This led to the school conducting an independent review by an outside party.

“The review uncovered substantial evidence that in the years prior to 2020’s reforms, a small number of IDEA senior leaders directed the use of IDEA financial and staff resources for their personal benefit on multiple occasions,” the letter stated. “Furthermore, their actions appeared to be done in a manner to avoid detection by the standard external audit and internal control processes that the Board had in place at the time.”

Gama replaced former CEO Tom Torkelson last year after he and the charter school were criticized for plans to lease a private jet and spending on San Antonio Spurs tickets.

READ MORE: Documents: IDEA Public Schools approved $900,000 severance package for CEO Tom Torkelson

IDEA Public Schools approved a $900,000 severance package for Torkelson as part of his departure. Both former CEOs co-founded IDEA in 2000.  

“In light of the evidence compiled, the Board also directed IDEA’s legal counsel, special counsel and auditors to refer this matter to the appropriate authorities for review of the evidence uncovered,” the letter stated, adding that no further information will be provided.

The IDEA Public School board is also cooperating with the Texas Education Agency regarding the possible appointment of a monitor or conservator.

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