Oxford Preparatory Academy, which has charter schools in Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and Chino, is suing its founder for allegedly diverting school funds for her own benefit.
Former Chino Valley Unified School District administrator Sue Rocha founded the first Oxford Preparatory Academy in Chino in 2010, and with the expansion into South Orange County she created the Edlighten Learning Solutions nonprofit in Yorba Linda to manage the schools.
The lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court accuses Roche of negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and seeks money and property she is claimed to hold as damages.
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The complaint alleges friends and family members loyal to Roche populated the initial Oxford Prep board of directors and the Edlighten staff. It is alleged a “complex structure of charter-management corporations that exercised significant influence over transactions and contracts” allowed Roche to divert educational funds for her personal use.
Roche, through her attorney Marc Greenberg, vehemently denies the allegations and says she looks forward to proving them wrong in court.
This isn't the first time Oxford Prep has been the center of controversy. The Weekly reported in 2014 that the mother of an African American eighth grader at the Mission Viejo campus was forced by a teacher to put a noose around his neck during a field trip to a farm. Though the teacher was placed on leave, an attorney for that Oxford Prep school—which is part of the Capistrano Unified School District but not overseen by the public school system—claimed the incident was blown out of proportion.
However, the incident drew the attention of the OC Human Relations Commission, and the boy's mother claimed the same teacher had made other racist comments in front of her son before.