State Agency Questions Spending by Charter School

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HOUSTON (AP) - State investigators are questioning at least $1.5 million in expenditures by a Houston charter school and contend the superintendent pursued deals that enriched her and family members.

The Texas Education Agency conducted an investigation into the Varnett Public School in 2011 but didn't release its report until last week. The agency contends thousands were spent on Broadway shows, cruises and other expenses not associated with the education of some 1,700 students.

Superintendent M. Annette Cluff, the school's founder, employed members of her family who also sat on the Varnett board. She operated a bus service that contracted with the school to transport students.

Attorney Rusty Hardin says the administrators never acted with "unlawful intent," while acknowledging some business practices may need improvement.

Varnett received a state academic rating of exemplary in 2010.