After years of pressure from students, parents and officials, the charters hired another provider at a lower cost. The new provider charged $ 2.86 per lunch in 2017, down from $ 3.25 billed by Café del Sol in 2015. School board minutes showed no other complaints.
Although Promesa's school board is supposed to be an independent watchdog, Southwest Key has effectively controlled it. For years, the council has been composed of Mr. Sanchez; Alexia Rodriguez, another charity executive; Ruth Hsu, a longtime friend and real estate partner, of Mr. Sanchez; and a Latino activist and a retired disc jockey. Two new members joined last month. It was unclear what Mr. Sanchez's resignation from Southwest Key meant for his role on the school board.
The Times found that Southwest Key hired public servants whose past was questionable. In 2011, the school board hired a superintendent, Joe Gonzales, who had been indicted almost a decade earlier for embezzlement. Seven of the eight counts were falland Mr. Gonzales agreed to reimburse the school district to pay the eighth. He had left another job with a redemption after being suspended due to alleged financial irregularities.
"We hired him because he excelled in what he did," Mr Sanchez said in an interview in September.
A former board member, Martha Cotera, said the council had not been informed of Mr. Gonzales' past, although he told the Times that he had informed his employer of the indictment. He also said he challenged the allegations of financial irregularities. "In any case, I was right," he said.
Following the hiring of Mr. Gonzales, one of Southwest Key Green Energy & Construction's charitable for-profit organizations hired a new subcontractor, SJ & G Contractors, for "management and operating". The company was a person: Steven J. Gonzales, Mr. Gonzales' son, who reported directly to Mr. Sanchez, showed records.