D.C. names Height charter school as defendant in fraud case

This story has been updated.

D.C. government lawyers have filed court documents naming Dorothy I. Height Community Academy Public Charter School as a defendant in an ongoing civil case, citing the school’s failure to stop making allegedly improper payments to its management company.

The amended complaint, filed Wednesday, comes seven weeks after the District’s attorney general filed a lawsuit alleging that the school’s founder, Kent Amos, had created the management company as a vehicle to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to himself and two co-owners.

The company received more than $13 million in fees for work that was in many cases performed by employees of the school, according to the District’s complaint. Amos’s attorney, Fred Cooke Jr., has said that his client has done nothing wrong.

Cooke said Wednesday’s filing doesn’t change anything for his client. The complaint is “still without merit,” he said. An attorney for the charter school’s board did not respond to a request for comment. The board’s spokesman also did not comment.

Since the allegations against Amos became public, the school’s board has allowed continued payments to his company worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to the documents filed Wednesday. The District’s filing stopped short of seeking an immediate halt to further payments but signaled that the attorney general may request such an injunction at some point.

Officials with the attorney general’s office declined to comment on why — if they are concerned about the continued payments to Amos’s management company — they have not yet sought an immediate stop to those payments. Absent court action, Amos’s company is eligible to receive up to $2.3 million in fees for the 2014-2015 school year, according to the complaint.

Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.

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