Former charter school board member comes forward - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Former charter school board member comes forward

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - From struggling to identify a school site to evading eviction from their Tiyan campus and most recently failing to submit their budget request for next fiscal year, the Guahan Academy Charter's School's venture in uncharted territory has been a rocky one.

Coming forward publicly to explain why this is so, a former Guahan Academy board of trustees member tells it all.

He's an advocate for charter schools, just not the Guahan Academy Charter School.

As he comes forward publicly, George Bamba says he sat on the school's board of trustees for a little over a month as the chairman of the finance and procurement committee before calling it quits late last month.

In a letter addressed to committee chair on education Speaker Judi Won Pat, Bamba officially resigned from the board after witnessing firsthand a lack of accountability and transparency.

"This is the first charter school and we always knew there were going to be challenges. But you know I think there's a difference between making our own challenges and meeting challenges that are there that we have to overcome," he explained.

In his letter to Won Pat and in a phone interview today with KUAM, Bamba says he saw pay disparities within the same teaching and counseling positions regardless of qualifications, employees failing to submit proper court, police, and sex offender registry clearances, as well as procurement irregularities.

"It just really came down to one person handling both the curriculum side and the business side. And you cannot have that. As an educator you stick to the curriculum side and educate and develop the curriculum that is appropriate for the charter school. The business side should be handled by a CEO or a business manager," Bamba stated.

Bamba even recalls the school's oversight hearing before lawmakers back in November. As we previously reported, school officials kept hush deferring all questions to their attorney, Daniel Somerfleck. In their frustration with the lack of cooperation, lawmakers ended the oversight with plans to reschedule for a later date. We should note, Somerfleck no longer serves as the school's legal counsel. "Whenever you're dealing with funding from the General Fund, there's absolutely no reason to withhold financial information, particularly financial information 0139 tax payers have the right to know what their money is being used for," he said.

He said, "At the end of the day I just said, 'Hey, if we're not going to be transparent if we're not going to ensure that there is a separation of duties and if we're not going to ensure that the appropriate teachers and counselors are hired at the correct salary, then I'd rather work with another charter school.'"

Despite his experience on the Guahan Academy board, Bamba hopes to push for other charters locally.

School principal Donna Dwiggins has yet to respond to KUAM's calls.

Meanwhile, Speaker Judi Won Pat's office confirms a follow-up oversight hearing for the school has yet to be scheduled.

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