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REPORT: Fraudulent Charter Schools Responsible for $100M in Taxpayer Losses Across 15 States

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A new study from Integrity in Education claims “fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.”  The report — “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse” — was a combined effort of the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education, and echoes the findings of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education.  

Charter school operators have seized on a wild west moment due to a lack of regulation and standards. They have abused the trust of parents by misusing funds that could be going towards improved facilities and curriculums, the report says.

Sabrina Joy Stevens, the Executive Director of Integrity in Education, visited Bill Moyers to discuss the topic:

“Our report shows that over $100 million has been lost to fraud and abuse in the charter industry, because there is virtually no proactive oversight system in place to thwart unscrupulous or incompetent charter operators before they cheat the public.”

The report breaks down fraud and mismanagement into the following six categories:

• Charter operators using public funds illegally — outright embezzlement
• Using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses
• Mismanagement that put children in potential danger
• Charters illegally taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide
• Charter operators inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues
• General mismanagement of public funds

Several examples of unscrupulous charter school operation are provided wherein available funds are used for personal gain.  Most notably are the stories of an Ohio-based charter school operator who created unsafe conditions for the children who attended the institutions:

Many of the cases involved charter schools neglecting to ensure a safe environment for their students. For example, Ohio’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Richard A. Ross, was forced to shut down two charter schools, The Talented Tenth Leadership Academy for Boys Charter School and The Talented Tenth Leadership Academy for Girls Charter School, because, according to Ross, “They did not ensure the safety of the students, they did not adequately feed the students, they did not accurately track the students and they were not educating the students well. It is unacceptable and intolerable that a sponsor and school would do such a poor job. It is an educational travesty.”

Diane Ravitch is an outspoken opponent of school privatization — or, “education reform” as it’s spun. She spoke with Moyers about the failures of charter schools and decried the privatization of the public school system that has occurred since her reign as Assistant Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush.

In Ohio, 17 mismanaged charter schools closed in 2013, over half of which were only open a few months.


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