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St. Teresa's Academy In Brookside Will Likely Give Away Tainted Donation

Kyle Palmer

St. Teresa's Academy, a 150-year old private Catholic all-girls school in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood, is trying to cut financial ties with one-time donor Tim Coppinger. 

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission accused Coppinger of defrauding low-income customers of millions of dollars in a payday lending scam. The FTC's injunction accuses Coppinger and another payday lender Frampton Rowland, III, of using the information of loan applicants to "deposit money into the applicants' accounts without permission...then withdraw reoccurring finance charges without any of the payments going to pay down the principal owed". 

The FTC ordered Coppinger to pay $32 million in a settlement. 

Before Coppinger's scam came to the attention of federal investigators, he donated money to St. Teresa's 2011-2012 campaign to raise money for the school's track. School leaders characterize Coppinger's donation as "not a large gift".

St. Teresa President Nan Tiehen Bone says she will propose to the school's Board of Directors that the money be donated to a Kansas City charity. She says school leaders have begun researching a deserving organization to donate to but said a final decision will be made by the Board next month. 

Coppinger's donation was one of multiple gifts given to St. Teresa's by members of the Coppinger family, which has deep ties to several Kansas City-area Catholic organizations. 

Last weekend, St. Teresa's removed the Coppinger family name from a building overlooking the track. It had adorned that site since 2012, after the school gave the Coppingers naming rights in exchange for their donations. 

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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