June 26th, 2012

Scrutiny of a West Oakland church school accused of abuse by parents and students is growing, with BART officials now questioning the school’s right to solicit for donations in stations and state officials investigating whether federal funds should have gone to school leaders. Watch an update on the story with our media partners at CBS San Francisco and read more about our findings here.

December 21st, 2011

Controversial church sends kids to solicit money at BART stations in Bay Area

A West Oakland church and private school that sends children to solicit donations at BART stations has a history of financial and legal troubles, including two cases in which church leaders admitted they illegally received government assistance.

The children, including one who said he was 7 years old, have been raising funds for St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church at East Bay BART stations for hours at a time on weekday evenings. They say they are collecting money for a new 24-hour day care center for the church, which runs a small K-12 private school.

"It’s going to be under my pastor’s house, and we’re going to put the pastor’s house on top," said 9-year-old Mekhi Sade Nosakhare, standing in the Downtown Berkeley BART station without an adult present. She said she doesn’t like soliciting donations every night, but if she doesn’t, she said she’ll get in trouble with her mother and stepfather, Andrew Lacy, who is one of the pastor’s sons. Lacy, who arrived shortly after, declined to be interviewed.

Image: St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and Private School in West Oakland

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California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.