The founder of a St. Paul charter school that lost $4.3 million in a hedge fund investment is planning to step down as superintendent, the school board said in a message to students and families.
Christianna Hang submitted her letter of resignation days after the state auditor's office determined that Hmong College Prep Academy (HCPA) failed to follow state law and its own policies when it invested $5 million in the hedge fund. The office sent its findings to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office for possible action.
The school's authorizer, Bethel University, also recommended earlier that the board fire Hang.
The board plans to meet Monday to vote on Hang's resignation and decide on an interim leadership plan.
"We have promised since school began that we would be open and transparent about the ongoing issues we are actively managing and resolving with school regulatory officials," the board said in its message to families. "Our school operations and HCPA's high-quality instruction will continue as normal."
HCPA opened in 2004 with 200 ninth- and 10th-graders, according to its website, and since has undergone several expansions on what now is a sprawling grades K-12 campus in the Como Park neighborhood.
The Hmong charter school is the top destination for families who decide against sending their children to St. Paul Public Schools. According to a recent report to that district's school board, 1,642 of the city's school-aged children went to HCPA during the 2019-20 school year.
HCPA had been eyeing financing options for a new middle school when it made the hedge fund investment in 2019, according to federal court documents filed by HCPA and the hedge fund, Woodstock Capital LLC.
The school sued the hedge fund, alleging fraud and negligence. Woodstock Capital attributed the losses to the pandemic.
Last week, State Auditor Julie Blaha said her office was not assigning blame to anyone for the school's losses.
Hang also served as the school's chief financial officer.
Bethel recently directed the school board to separate the superintendent and finance positions, and to implement a two-person authorization system for electronic fund transfers.
The board said in its message that it has worked with families to create a special school community and is "deeply committed to ensuring the success of the school today and for decades to come."
In a statement Sunday, an HCPA spokesperson said the school is "managing and resolving … administrative and governance issues with our authorizer Bethel University."
"We are also managing the leadership of the school community," the statement said. "The board has received a resignation letter from HCPA Superintendent Dr. Hang. The board will meet Monday to discuss the topic and next steps forward."