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Phoenix charter school was sinking in debt, while its owner spent taxpayer dollars to support her lavish lifestyle. Like two Hawaiian vacations, a European vacation, personal gym membership, and sessions with “spiritual healers”.
A court-appointed trustee flagged at least $37,157 of spending by Patricia McCarty that the trustee considered inappropriate. In a phone interview, McCarty denied misspending school funds but declined to discuss specific expenditures. “I care about what I do. And most people who know me know I care about what I’m doing for the right reason,” McCarty said.
The United States Trustee for the District of Arizona accused McCarty of “fraud, dishonesty, incompetence, gross mismanagement, and breach of fiduciary duty to creditors.” Investigators challenged some of McCarty’s expenses, trustee wrote in court documents. “She provided supporting documents with “outright fabrications, intended to disguise that she was using taxpayer funds for her personal expenses”.
Among the flagged expenses were listed:
$623.52 spent on “Waste Management Large Container Drop Off for Tree Branches,” while a former employee told investigators the expense was actually for the Waste Management Open.
$94.60 spent at a Walmart listing the expense as “classroom supplies”. The WalMart was in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Investigators found $500 spent at “Spirit Repair, LLC, in North Carolina. McCarty said it was for a “Spirit Repair Heart Math School License to raise math student test scores.” Instead, the investigator said it was a session with a spiritual healer.
StarShine Academy amassed nearly $3 million in debt, according to bankruptcy records. The State Board for Charter Schools says it will shut down StarShine after this school year.