Oakland School Board Hears From Parents Of Panhandling Students
OAKLAND (CBS 5) – School officials in Oakland heard an earful Wednesday night from parents and former students of Saint Andrew Missionary Baptist Church Private School, which sends students out to panhandle at BART stations.
Charlos Joiner is glad to call himself a former student of Saint Andrew’s school. He explained to the Oakland Unified School Board that he was mugged when he was nine, while panhandling for the school.
“I was terrified, I was really scared,” he told CBS 5 in a previous interview.
His mother is angry that no one was around to protect him. “What about the teachers, where were they?” she asked her son.
“I don’t know,” he said.
Her family isn’t alone in slinging allegations about Saint Andrew, located in West Oakland. Parents of other former students had plenty to say.
“She would be at school until 10 p.m.,” Marilyn Lawson said of her daughter. “The first time I called and they said she was staying for Bible studies. I didn’t know what was happening, until I talked to one of the mothers who said they were going out and soliciting funds.”
“It’s a criminal shame that you guys sit up there and nod your heads like you know what the hell I’m talking about and you don’t do nothing about it. It’s disgusting,” said Kelly Corbitt, who took her daughter Courtney out of the school after just a few months.
These parents are angry about what we discovered in our undercover investigation -children panhandling five days a week, late at night at Bay Area BART stations.
They are shuttled to the stations by school pastor Robert Lacy Sr. and his son Robert Jr.
But we discovered there was a lot more than pocket change involved. The district has been awarding federal funds to the school, up to $50,000 annually for the past 12 years.
Saint Andrew received that much money because they claimed to have 195 students. Our investigation found they have less than 20.
For two years, the Lacy’s have refused to speak to CBS 5. But there was an unexpected appearance Wednesday night. Amidst gasps from the audience, Robert Lacy Jr. showed up to speak in front of a hostile crowd.
“We heard that this information was going to be brought up tonight, however we were not ready to respond. But I would like to say we are able to respond to every question about that arises about the money that comes to Saint Andrew’s,” he said.
But he didn’t answer any questions, even after CBS 5 followed him and his father outside the meeting. They continued to refuse and dodged our cameras as they tried to make their getaway.
But the Lacy’s can’t hide from the investigation that the district is launching. School Board member Noel Gallo is calling for one immediately.
“I hope this board has the courage and this superintendent goes beyond his rhetoric to be able to investigate, correct, stop the funding, and if we have to press criminal charges, we will,” Gallo said.
The School Board continued discussing the issue behind closed doors. Their concern: how to terminate the funding if the school is in fact misrepresenting its class size. The question moving forward, does the local district or the California Department of Education have the authority? At this point, they are still blaming each other.
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