Charter school operators guilty of misusing funds

Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2013

The couple running Ivy Academia could face prison time over the $200,000 in public funds. The case is seen as having major implications for other charters….In a case that could have impact statewide, a Los Angeles jury Friday found the operators of a west San Fernando Valley charter school guilty of illegally taking or misappropriating more than $200,000 in public funds.

Together, Yevgeny “Eugene” Selivanov, 40, and his wife, Tatyana Berkovich, 36, faced 26 felony counts for using state money in ways they insisted were legal under laws that apply to nonprofits and charter schools in California. Over several years, for example, they spent more than $34,000 on meals, entertainment and gifts that they classified as business expenses or gestures of appreciation for teachers…

…Selivanov and Berkovich started Ivy Academia, a charter school of 1,100 students that operates on three campuses, in 2004 and remained in charge until their arrests in 2010. The school had strong test scores, financial stability and a waiting list of applicants. Such success was what mattered most, argued witnesses for the defense. Indeed, in creating charters, the idea was to trade flexibility for academic accountability….