The Community School of Excellence is under criminal investigation for failure to report child abuse and possible financial abuses, Sgt. Paul Paulos, a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department, said Thursday. No other details about the investigation were available.
The school, near the intersection of Rice Street and Maryland Avenue, bills itself as a “K-8 Hmong Language & Culture and IB World School.” It opened in 2007 and now has an enrollment of nearly 1,000 students. Founder Mo Chang, who had served as a charter school liaison for the St. Paul School District, is the school’s superintendent.
The charter school came under fire last year when the Department of Education ordered the school’s authorizer, Concordia University in St. Paul, to investigate reports of misused free and reduced-price lunch funds and other allegations.
The independent investigation substantiated allegations that the school’s superintendent improperly directed staff members to enter or have students enter lunch codes for meals that were not eaten and encouraged staff to not report suspected cases of child abuse.
While some complaints were unsupported, the report concluded that the superintendent had threatened staffers and created an environment where workers were afraid to disagree with her.
Earlier this month, after being sent the school board’s improvement plan for the superintendent, the Department of Education said that it wanted to know how Concordia planned to resolve issues at the school. Concordia has until the end of the month to respond.