Former San Diego Mountain Empire School Superintendent and current Sausalito Superintendent Steve Van Zant is facing a felony count of conflict of interest in running a consulting firm that teaches school districts how to make money by opening charter schools outside their own school boundaries. Districts that sponsor satellite charters receive approximately 3% of the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) generated without losing their own district’s ADA. Districts that have lost ADA to this alleged scheme are now angry that their ADA is being siphoned off while dollars needed for students is squandered by exploitation of the language in California’s Charter School Law. This occurs while the public school district has no regulatory influence over the new charter school.
Evidence suggests Van Zant was previously doing his consulting work from his former district office during regular office hours.
Steve Van Zant (pictured in his Ferrari) and his wife’s interior design firm were hired by at least two of his former employers- all for the purpose of designing and planning charter schools inside other districts’ school boundaries.
The impact? Where the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters Arts and Sciences operates under an agreement with the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District, Paul Cordeiro, superintendent of the Newhall School District in the Santa Clarita Valley where the school is located remarked, “That’s the profile, small districts that need money. The issue is the law that people are exploiting that allows charter schools to be located outside the district boundaries as part of a scheme that’s designed just to make money.”
Sarah Sutherland, an education attorney explained, “He (Van Zant) took this concept and he ran with it, turning it into a business,” she said.