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School founder facing charges for theft of huge sum to plead today

1. Christopher Clemons was a highly touted graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institution of Technology. He was a rising star in the charter scene movement.

2. Clemons asked the Atlanta school district for permission to start Latin Academy and give low-income, mostly black students a shot at the kind of education associated with elite prep schools. The school was successful. Latin Academy’s academic performance ranked in the top 25 percent of all Atlanta middle schools in an area where neighborhood middle schools are better known for hallway chaos than academics.

3.  Atlanta Public Schools authorized Latin Academy, but as a charter school it operates independently from the system and has its own governing board. The board was blue-ribbon quality, packed with Atlanta business leaders, and it scrutinized test results, homework scores and student discipline data, but there’s little evidence they paid the same attention to school finances. The board trusted Clemons, with his Ivy League pedigree and reputation.

4. Hundreds of thousands of dollars went missing from Atlanta Latin and two other charter schools Clemons founded in Fulton County. Atlanta Latin had to close because of the debacle.

5. Clemons took off to Denver after the investigation, leaving behind a rented townhome strewn with Hermes boxes, lease paperwork for a new luxury car, used boarding passes and a Rolex receipt. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found numerous unusual charges in Latin Academy financial records, including a $12,000 charge at a strip club, thousands of dollars spent at Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead, and ATM withdrawals of hundreds of dollars at a time.

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