Monticello Montessori

A continuing state investigation into Monticello Montessori Public Charter School settled some issues while raising new concerns over reimbursements and the future of its preschool.

The Ammon charter, which enrolls more than 200 students, has been under investigation by the Idaho Public Charter Schools Commission since the end of March. An initial complaint was sent to the commission March 25 about the school’s process to address grievances and accused the board of directors of benefiting from school contracts.

As outlined in a follow-up letter sent to Monticello Montessori Friday, the Charter Schools Commission does not have reason to believe the allegation related to the school contracts. However, other issues that the commission identified in March remain a concern and new questions have been raised about the school’s finances.

One issue that could shape the school going forward is its preschool program. The Charter School Commission had not licensed Monticello to serve students younger than kindergarten and said the school should work to organize the program through an outside vendor if it wants to continue it.

“The current preschool structure is a violation of the school’s performance certificate and may be considered cause for a non-renewal recommendation if the issue is not remedied,” the commission wrote.

The commission raised concerns that there was no documented connection between the tuition fees for preschool and the utility and facility costs. It also warned that any state or federal dollars that went into the preschool may count as a misuse of public funds.

The preschool charges an annual tuition of $1,828.75, according to its pre-kindergarten program student registration form.

The investigation found that there was an unusually high number of employee reimbursements between July and December, which the commission could not find an explanation for. The current budget did not include health insurance for any of Monticello’s full-time employees, which is required for all employees.

One problem identified in late March was when and how the school filed its annual Articles of Incorporation in 2020. A delay in filing and an incomplete list of the acting board members could have resulted in all actions taken by the school board in 2021 being declared invalid. Friday’s letter said the school had provided records to address the issue, though the commission warned that future lapses “may pose a legal risk.”

Monticello Montessori called a special board meeting on April 20 to approve a response letter to the State Department of Education’s Office of Dispute Resolution over another concern raised by the commission related to special education.

The letter thanks the school for cooperating in the investigation over the last month. The school board at Monticello Montessori did not respond to requests for comment by the Post Register or Idaho EdNews, which had initially reported on the investigation.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.

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