Friday, September 26

MICHELLE RHEE'S PAL IN MORE TROUBLE

Sacramento Bee - The federal government released findings of its investigation into management of the nonprofit St. HOPE volunteer program founded by Sacramento mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson, citing violations that include having youthful participants run personal errands and wash his car.

The findings from the federal probe followed by a day the government's announcement it was barring Johnson, St. HOPE Academy and a former official from access to federal grants and contracts for up to a year.

That, in turn, left city officials scrambling T=to figure out what it would mean if Johnson were elected mayor. Questions that the city attorney is looking into include whether Johnson would be able to vote on projects involving federal funds and whether his position at the helm would affect the city's eligibility for federal money.

Meanwhile, worried parents whose children attend Sacramento High and a K-8 school run by St. HOPE called its office Thursday wondering whether the suspension of federal funds would affect their students' education.

St. HOPE, based in Oak Park, runs an array of nonprofit endeavors, including the schools, a development company, an art gallery, and Hood Corps, the urban peace corps program at the center of the investigation. Johnson ran all the St. HOPE programs until he stepped down earlier this year, saying he wanted to focus on his mayoral bid.

The federal funding suspension was triggered by a months-long investigation into Hood Corps' use of AmeriCorps funds. The program received $807,000 between 2004 and 2007. Federal funding for the program was not renewed last year.

In a notice of suspension sent to Johnson, an official from the AmeriCorps agency said evidence indicates that Johnson, as president and chief executive of St. HOPE Academy, improperly diverted grant money.

"The evidence is adequate to suspect that you have committed irregularities which seriously reflect on the propriety of further federal government dealings with you," wrote William Anderson, a debarment and suspension official with the federal Corporation for National & Community Service, which oversees the AmeriCorps volunteer program.

Saint Hope News Release, July 2007 - St. HOPE Public Schools announced that Michelle Rhee has been confirmed as the new Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schools. . . Rhee, who has served on the St. HOPE Public Schools Board of Directors for one year, played an instrumental role in the hiring of new staff and professional development, specifically at Sacramento High School. Immediately following her confirmation, Chancellor Rhee named fellow SHPS Board Member Erin McGoldrick as the Chancellor's Special Assistant for Data and Accountability. . . "This is an exciting time for St. HOPE, our students, and our board of directors. I am confident that Michelle and Erin will make great impacts on the lives of D.C. students just as they have for our students. We are privileged to have their leadership here in Sacramento", said Kevin Johnson, St. HOPE CEO and founder. Both Rhee and McGoldrick will continue serving on the SHPS Board of Directors.

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