Superintendent of Hmong College Prep resigns after state auditor says she violated state law

The superintendent of a troubled charter school didn’t resign quietly Monday night, defending her leadership amid financial scandal.

The board of the Hmong College Prep Academy accepted the resignation of Dr. Christianna Hang Monday night, after the school lost $4.3 million in a hedge fund investment. 

"Look at my history at HCPA. From day one to 18 years later, we’ve never lost a penny," said Hang. "I’m not leaving because I don’t care about HCPA, I’m stepping down because I care that much."

The Minnesota state auditor’s office says the school violated state law by investing with Woodstock Capital, as state statute prohibits investing public funds in private equity groups or hedge funds. 

"It’s so important we don’t take big risks with public funds for kids," said state auditor Julie Blaha. "There is a small list of approved investment options for schools and this didn’t fit into those."

The school invested $5 million with Woodstock Capital in 2019. This past June, the school filed a lawsuit against the hedge fund, after being unable to recover $4.3 million of their investment.

In a statement, the school’s authorizer Bethel University said it was aware of Hang’s resignation saying, "We continue to partner with HCPA’s board on next steps that support organizational health, student success, and the long-term educational interests of the community HCPA serves."

In a letter, Hang said she was stepping down effective December 30, 2021 amid health concerns surrounding the stress of the situation. "You can be rest assured the school is financially strong," she wrote, claiming the school’s fund balance was in excess of $19.7 million.

Blaha said auditor’s office forwarded their findings to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for potential charges. Meanwhile the school is performing its own internal audit.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Hang requested the board cover any legal fees she may incur. The board tabled the item until further notice.