Charleston schools’ ex-finance chief lands charter school consulting job

Longtime finance chief Michael Bobby speaks during his first Charleston County School District Board meeting as interim superintendent in November 2014. Since resigning from the district in November 2015, Bobby has taken a new role as a consultant for a charter school management company.

Eight months after resigning amid the revelation of an $18 million budget shortfall in the Charleston County School District, former Chief Financial Officer Michael Bobby landed a charter-school consulting job that involves a local school.

The Florida-based Pinnacle Charter School Management Group hired Bobby as a consultant July 1. While Bobby will not be working at a school site, part of his job will be to provide advice regarding the new Oceanside Collegiate Academy in McClellanville, which will open in the fall under the authority of the S.C. Public Charter School District. Pinnacle CEO Mike D’Angelo said he was aware of Bobby’s previous work.

“He has very specific knowledge about school operations, academics and development of new schools, which we’ll be doing down the road,” D’Angelo said.

According to D’Angelo, Bobby will also provide consulting in regards to Gray Collegiate Academy in Columbia. Both schools offer a focus on athletics and high-level academics.

Bobby started working for the Charleston County School District in 2008 and served as chief of finance, operations and capital projects. In October 2014, he took on the added responsibility of interim superintendent following the resignation of Superintendent Nancy McGinley. He resigned in mid-November 2015 shortly after it was revealed that the district had run an $18 million deficit in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The district continued to pay his salary and insurance benefits for six months under the terms of a severance agreement.

Auditors have blamed the shortfall on a “lack of basic budgetary control.” They found problems including vastly overestimated revenues; out-of-control spending on employee overtime, substitute teachers and printing; and half a million dollar IRS fee for late filing of tax forms.

Since Oceanside Collegiate Academy is not overseen by the Charleston County School District, Bobby will not be working directly with his former employer — although the school will lease the former McClellanville Middle School building from the district. D’Angelo said his company made sure the school’s leaders knew about the decision to hire Bobby.

“We ran it by our board at OCA just to make sure that we felt like we were not doing anything detrimental to OCA, and they didn’t think so,” D’Angelo said.

Oceanside board Chairman Dr. Marvin Arnsdorff confirmed that Pinnacle kept the board in the loop.

“(Bobby) will not have a role with OCA in regard to managing the daily operations of the school, its finances, its employees or students,” Arnsdorff wrote in an email Monday. “However, we may or may not seek him out for consultation purposes from time to time, if needed, as one of several community resources we have.”

S.C. Public Charter School District Chief of Staff Rich Richards said Pinnacle did not ask the district for input on the decision to hire Bobby as a consultant. Pinnacle has a contract with the school, not with the district.

“Under the Charter School Act, the district is charged with monitoring the performance of its schools without interfering with the autonomy granted to public charter schools,” Richards said.

Bobby has not responded to a request for comment.

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