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Utah postpones key vote on public school run by polygamists

Posted at 8:51 PM, Dec 08, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Charter School Board (SCSB) chose to delay a key vote on Thursday that will decide the future of a public school in West Valley City run by members of the polygamous Kingston group.

In 2020, FOX 13 News revealed how Vanguard Academy has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on Kingston-affiliated businesses. Shortly thereafter, the SCSB launched its own investigation, reaching many of the same conclusions.

The public charter school has been on probation since August 2022.

At the time, the state indicated it would decide whether Vanguard Academy must be shut down after November 22, 2022.

The SCSB also decided to appoint a new director, financial director, and mentor to help Vanguard Academy reach compliance.

SCSB Executive Director Jennifer Lambert said each of those positions has been filled, but the search took longer than expected. For that reason, she recommended postponing the board's vote until March 2023.

In response to the SCSB's concerns about financial conflicts of interest, Vanguard Academy has replaced two of its nine board members with individuals outside of the Kingston group.

The state previously asked Vanguard Academy to appoint a quorum of non-conflicted board members.

"They haven't resolved any of the deficiencies yet," Lambert said on Thursday.

Vanguard Academy officials have acknowledged the majority of its staff and students come from plural families and have argued they are victims of discrimination.

"If you want us gone, just say you want us gone," said Vanguard Academy alumnus Breanna Jenkins. "I can assure you, we are not going anywhere."

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