Under former Superintendent Steve Van Zant’s watch, the Mountain Empire District launched 13 independent-study charter schools in a scheme to siphon off other public school districts’ Average Daily Attendance (ADA). By charging operational costs to the independent charters it allowed Mountain Empire to profit from the arrangement- at the direct expense of neighboring schools and their children.
Van Zant signed contracts with charter entities that guaranteed him 5% of the projected charter’s revenue as “recognition for creating and maintaining charter school revenue to the district.” His charter school consulting firm EdHive, operated with his spouse, charged charters up to an additional 100,000.00 to provide set-up and back-office services and other billable offerings from the firm.
Counsel for the San Diego Unified School district has put Mountain Empire on legal notice to shut down the three charters currently operating within SDUSD boundaries. General Counsel for SDUSD Andra Donovan stated, “That Van Zant personally profited from the charters makes the arrangements even more unpalatable.”