An out-of-town education organization with a history of wrongly pocketing millions of taxpayer dollars by serving high school dropouts with short school days and home-based, “self-paced” computer learning is seeking to set up shop in Wards 7 and 8.

The Pasadena, California-based nonprofit — Pathways in Education, or PIE — claims it wants to use its education model to help high school dropouts in D.C. earn a high school diploma. PIE DC, operating as a nonprofit, organization ultimately wants to set up five schools in the district and serve 1,500 students.

“Too many at-risk students in Washington D.C. are underserved or failing to graduate and are therefore deprived of their full potential,” stated an application that PIE filed with the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board to open one school for 300 students in the district’s troubled Wards 7 and 8.

“We understand the challenges of opening a school that serves students that have educational, emotional and home life challenges,” Kristen Concepcion, curriculum supervisor for PIE, told the public charter school board earlier this month. “But we also have a track record of serving such students.”

However, records show other educational entities operated by John and Joan Hall — a husband-and-wife team of former teachers from Hollywood who are seeking to open a PIE school in DC — also have a history of wrongly pocketing millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

Two affiliated entities — Options for Learning and Options for Youth — received $45.4 million in overpayments from the Department of Education in California by using erroneous ways to calculate teacher hours and teacher-to-pupil ratios, according to court records. The Options entities continue to fight the case.

PIE’s educational model — which features short school days of just a few hours and a lot of independent, home-based online learning — has also been called into question.

“For tougher inner city kids, that’s not what they need,” said Jack Wuest, executive director of the Alternative Schools Network, a Chicago-based organization for alternative education providers. “They need a consistent group of adults with whom they can build relationships.”

PIE officials say small class sizes will enable them to do just that. Wuest says the short school days enable PIE to cycle in twice as many students to increase revenue.

Wuest also said PIE has a “weird structure” comprised of both for-profit and nonprofit entities, some of which provide services to each other.

The model seemed so convoluted that Chicago Public Schools  rejected PIE’s proposal to open five new alternative charter schools in 2012—  in addition to the several it already operates in the city — due to “numerous concerns” with the proposal’s educational plan, governance plan, and business plan, records show.

Nevertheless, PIE is seeking to use a similar business structure in D.C.

“Why the complexity?,” Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. public charter school board, asked PIE officials regarding their complex web of service providers affiliated with the proposed school.

Dennis Chestnut, executive director of Groundwork Anacostia River DC, a nonprofit that connects young people to environmental and conservation jobs, is not bothered by PIE’s troubled past.

“I personally don’t think those are reasons that we couldn’t support that kind of program,” Chestnut said. He conceded, however, that PIE plans to subcontract with Groundwork if it opens a school in the district.

The DC Public Charter School Board is expected to vote on the PIE DC application at its next meeting on Dec. 14. Public comment is open on the matter until then.