Southwest Keys & a new East Austin Charter School

(Community Matters) A comment in response to my posting about Southwest Keys program and their new East Austin charter school.

Eugene,

Thanks for bringing these observations to our attention. This is an issue I was previously unaware of but now plan on learning more about.

Molly Bloom from The Statesman reports:

“Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez does in fact lead several for-profit businesses affiliated with Southwest Key, including a cafe, a landscaping business, and a real estate holding company that IRS filings show has done hundreds of thousands of dollars of business with the Southwest Key non-profit. Those businesses aren’t listed on his biographical affidavit included in the charter school’s application to the State Board of Education, but Southwest Key’s educational programs superintendent Nellie Cantu told me last month that the omission was an oversight.”

An oversight?

###

My follow-up comments: My points are about transparency and governance. I do not mean to suggest that Southwest doesn’t operate some very fine and successful programs. It’s been many years (’91 or ’92) since I toured any of their facilities; then I toured programs in Austin, Houston and, I think, Dallas.

The issue I intended to raise was about transparency and governance. I note that the 2007 audit fails to disclose any closely-held transactions (which were reportedly acknowledged to the AAS reporter by SWK’s educational superintendent, Nellie Cantu) between Southwest Key Programs and its chief executive officer. I don’t know whether or not the board is fully aware of these transactions. I don’t even know if it is true that its CEO earns over $700,000 per year from SWK revenue streams and payments. It is for its board, funders and supporters to determine whether or not these closely held transactions are appropriate.

As to comments comparing Juan’s salary with Seton’s CEO, let’s get real. First, Seton’s CEO is also a corporate officer for the national network as well as regional CEO. Second, Seton is Central Texas’ second largest, private employer and operates 9 hospitals, 4 clinics and 8 outpatient centers. It has revenues totaling over $1.1 billion. Southwest Keys’ revenues totaled less than $50 million in the fiscal year ended 8/31/07.

Earlier this year a community leader phoned asking for my support of this organization; he appeared not to know the rumors of the CEO’s captive companies serving as SWK vendors. Again, everything might be just fine, I’m just asking that this be assessed and confirmed.

One response to “Southwest Keys & a new East Austin Charter School

  1. Pingback: More on East Austin College Prep & Southwest Key | Community Matters

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