SANTA ANA – Oxford Preparatory Academy has filed a lawsuit accusing its founder of diverting school funds to benefit herself after an audit raised allegations of money-laundering.
The charter schools’ leaders last week filed a complaint in Orange County Superior Court accusing Sue Roche – who founded the Oxford Preparatory Academy and created a Yorba Linda-based private company that helped manage it’s sister campuses – of negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
Roche’s attorney, Marc Greenberg, flatly denied the allegations, which were raised late last year in an audit by the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, a collective that assists California school districts with financial and management advice and assistance.
“It finally gives us a forum to set the record straight,” Greenberg said of the lawsuit on Monday. “We now have an avenue to prove all these allegations are false.”
Roche, a former Chino Valley Unified administrator, founded Oxford Preparatory’s first K-8 school in Chino in 2010. As the charter expanded, opening campuses in Mission Viejo and Lake Forest, Roche created a nonprofit called Edlighten Learning Solutions to manage the schools.
The lawsuit contends that both the initial Oxford Prep board of directors and Edlighten Learning Solutions were staffed by friends and family loyal to Roche. It alleges that through the creation of a “complex structure of charter-management corporations that exercised significant influence over transactions and contracts,” Roche diverted educational funds for her personal use.
Last year, the Oxford Prep schools and Roche and Edlighten separated, with Oxford since electing a new board of directors and replacing the executive leadership.
The allegations contained in the audit and the lawsuit have “devastated” Roche, her attorney said.
“You are talking about a woman who dedicated her life to that school and made it a success,” Greenberg…