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An audit is underway at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts to determine whether student government money was misused on school expenses for the second year in a row.

Last May an internal San Diego Unified audit concluded that two previous administrators had transferred nearly $66,000 from the student government account to cover instructional supplies, equipment, office supplies and to chip in a small part of the salary for a visiting teacher. That violates a San Diego Unified policy that says that student government money is not supposed to be used for instructional supplies and equipment or ordinary school expenses.

The issue came up again this year when current Principal Mitzi Lizarraga asked the student government for roughly $600 for a team-building event at a local restaurant. (Student bodies elect their own leaders and raise their own money for extra programs and activities.) The student group approved giving the principal the money but Lizarraga later learned that the expenses were inappropriate for student government funds. She said she wrote a personal check to reimburse the group.

“Clearly if I had known this was going to be an issue I would not have approached [student government] and you can guarantee that this will not happen again,” she said.

Ruby Wilson, whose granddaughter attends the school, feels it was inappropriate to seek the money from students who could feel pressure to agree with administrators.

“They intimidated them so they let it go,” Wilson said. “The word got out that the kids are under all this pressure with these funds.”

Though the money has been repaid, the school is now undergoing another audit of its student government funds, said San Diego Unified spokesman Jack Brandais. Parents were first notified about the first audit last night, weeks after a Channel 10 report that Lizarraga said had misinformed the public about the issue.

I am still trying to find a link to that original report. As you may have noticed, it has been a tough news day for the school — the same school where a reported sex offender was recently discovered to be volunteering with students.

EMILY ALPERT

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