In December 2017, Luiz Rigney, a certified teacher, was on his way to an office park in suburban Riverside County to drop off a set of suitcases. The suitcases didn’t carry cash. But according to an indictment filed by San Diego prosecutors, Rigney was carrying $5 million in the form of student paperwork.
Rigney and these cases were a small part of a large, complex entity called A3 Education, a charter school management organization. By the time the San Diego district attorney’s office brought charges in the case, A3, controlled by two men named Sean McManus and Jason Schrock, ultimately brought in more than $80 million, according to prosecutors.
A3 and its alleged scheme covered huge swaths of California, and key players in the operation found creative ways to make children into A3 students — largely just on paper — so they could cash in.
In this episode of Good Schools for All, host Scott Lewis interviews VOSD education reporter Will Huntsberry to walk through the paperwork and testimony that tell this story of unprecedented alleged fraud that exposed major flaws in the state’s auditing process.
Huntsberry also spoke with San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan, whose office brought the charges.
Reflecting on this case, and the ways McManus and Schrock allegedly siphoned money from the state, Stephan said, “it was extremely disheartening and disappointing and in a sense how easy it was.”