Anyone with kids in school knows raising money is essential to pay for programs like music, sports and field trips.
But dozens of schools and nonprofits still hadn’t received payment months after their events. 7 On your Side’s Michael Finney investigated.
This was a costly delay, not just for schools, but nonprofits, churches, libraries and scouting troops. They wanted to help the environment by recycling electronic waste and earn money at the same time. Instead, many were left to wonder what happened to tons of e-waste and their money.
The kids play hard at Washington High School in San Francisco. They play loud at Sheldon High in Sacramento. Like schools everywhere, these kids have to raise money to keep on playing
They also care about the environment. And so, it was a perfect fit. Earlier this year, Washington and Sheldon partnered with the company All Green Electronics Recycling of Orange County to hold free eWaste collection events.
Residents would drop off old electronics. All Green would recycle them and the groups would get a share of proceeds. The money would come from state fees you pay when you buy a new TV, or computer screen.
“It was a lot of hard work,” said Carinne Malana, a Sheldron Band member.
However, after the school year ended, summer came and went. The groups said All Green still hadn’t paid them. 7 On Your Side heard the same complaint from fundraisers across the state.
All Green blamed the state of California, saying in emails to the fundraisers: “The money we get from the state for doing this is how we are able to make a donation. Unfortunately, the state has not paid us like they are supposed to.”
So Sheldon High parent Dorothy Davidson and Washington High teacher Lawrence Yee asked state officials why they are aren’t paying for their stuff? The answer surprised them.
“All Green has not submitted a payment claim to Cal Recycle since December of last year,” said Cal Recycle manager Jeff Hunts.
Instead, state documents show all green sold at least some of the schools’ materials to another recycler.
7 On Your Side’s Michael Finney went to see All Green owner Arman Sadeghi. He is well known in his field, gave a ted talk on recycling and runs a motivational speaking business called, Titanium Success.
“All along we’ve been saying the state is not paying us,” Sadeghi said.
But, the problem started long before these schools held fundraisers. Documents show Dadeghi tried to claim $304,000 from the state recycling fund in 2015. The state denied his claims, saying he didn’t follow rules, like certifying weights of recycled material.
Sadeghi is appealing.
“They’ve gotten more and more strict with the paperwork, so as it’s gotten more strict, the way you collect material at a school makes it essentially impossible to get paid for 100 percent of it,” Sadeghi said.
Sadeghi said it was so cumbersome he stopped holding eWaste fundraisers last spring. He said he is trying first to pay groups from 2015.
“Why would we pay the people who just had an event when there are kids and schools that haven’t been paid in a year and a half?” Sadeghi said.
Even though another recycler paid him for tons of materials from school events this year he said it barely covered his costs. He is paying groups out of his own pocket, and says most have now gotten paid.
“We’re doing everything we can to make donations to these people and most of them are coming from my personal checkbook,” Sadeghi said.
He says his company tried twice to send a check to Washington High School.
“When they didn’t receive the check we told them we’re happy to do a wire,” Sadeghi said.
And he did. Sadeghi sent $1,820 to Washington High and he now giving students at Sheldon High School $1,520.
Sadeghi says he is close to reaching a settlement with the state over those past claims and expects to be paid by the end of the year. When he does he says he will give donations to those still waiting for funds.