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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Apr 15th 2010, 11:53 PM
Courtesy of the blogger called The Perimeter Primate.

It is important to keep up with such things as this because these schools get public money while being privately run and mostly deregulated. Tax money is taken from the traditional public schools and sent to the charter school with no expectation it will ever be returned.

The post is quite long, so here are just a few.


Some of the more egregious:

April 2009: In Springfield, Massachusetts, the New Leadership Charter School made national news when one of its 11 year-old students killed himself after severe bullying. In the school's charter renewal, the state cited it for "inconsistent implementation of the character education and leadership elements of its mission.

..."February 2010: In Philadelphia, a former administrator at Community Academy Charter School has filed a whistle-blower suit alleging that she was improperly fired the day after federal agents raided the school in August. She claims that charter school officials retaliated against her because she had filed a complaint with federal investigators detailing "a pattern of criminal misuse of local, state, and federal funds." The charter founder and CEO had five relatives on the charter's payroll and his wife was a consultant to the school.

And more and more we are finding that real estate transactions and profits are involved.

March 2010: In Oakland, California, the Oakland Charter Academyís executive director was denied confirmation to sit on the California State Board of Education because of financial questions relating to an interlocking series of real estate business arrangements involving him and a close associate, Ben Chavis of Oakland, the former director of the American Indian Public Charter School. These two operate five Oakland charter schools.

And another from New York City:

March 2010: In New York City, a federal grand jury is trying to unravel a complicated story about the finances of two local politicians and their ties to two charter schools, Merrick Academy Charter School and Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School. The story involves campaign donation from developers, officials funneling public money to the developing firm, the charter schools giving campaign donations to the politicians, the relocation of a charter school to property owned by the developer, and more. Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School is run by a for-profit company called Victory Schools. The students sit on property in trailers in a lot behind a chain-link fence, surrounded by piles of dirt, with no labs, gym, playground or cafeteria kitchen. The property is being developed by one of the politicians top campaign donors. The developer uses the school as a selling point to hawk his houses.

More landlord/tenant real estate profiteering:

April 2010: In Philadelphia, a federal probe has discovered that the CEO of the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School rents the school's property from Parents United, an organization which she also heads, making her both landlord and tenant. Apparently, the charter schoolís board also approved $536,093 for travel and conferences, but the school didnít document them.

Long post, much more there. The Perimeter Primate blogger summarizes some the main problems with charters at this time.

It's important to know these since our Secretary of Education is paying districts who allow more and more of these schools.

The free-market version of schools seems to mean that the offices of local, state, and federal investigators and prosecutors will need to be greatly expanded as they are called on more and more to handle cases of the following:

* Tampering with grades, attendance and testing
* Misuse of local, state, and federal funds: grand theft and misappropriation of public school funds, embezzlement and engaging in fraud and misrepresentation, bankruptcy fraud, and federal and local tax evasion.
* Nepotism and conflicts of interest
* Scandals involving elected officials, developers, and charter schools
* Complicated, shady, borderline-legal and illegal real estate deals

Then there are the 13 Philly charter schools which are being investigated there...many of them for profiteering. Not what should be happening with taxpayer money.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz's investigation of 13 Philadelphia charter schools found repeated examples of complex real estate arrangements in which charters leased or rented facilities from related non-profit organizations.

"The way the charter law is written and not enforced--there is a gigantic loophole through which people can profiteer," Butkovitz said. "This is not supposed to be a vehicle for maximizing profit for operators and related parties."

Butkovitz began his special fraud investigation of charters several months after The Inquirer reported allegations of financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest at Philadelphia Academy Charter School in April 2008.

His staff has been sharing information with the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is conducting a criminal investigation of at least nine area charter schools, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.

There is a need for some high level Democratic politicians with clout to speak out on this practice and its use of public money.

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