by Brian Washington
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Another report is shining new light on alleged instances of fraud and abuse connected to charter schools.
The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse,” was released earlier this week and charges the financial total connected to waste and mismanagement in the charter school sector is as high as $203 million.
The study was released by the Center for Popular Democracy and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and has managed to get the attention of the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss, who wrote a column about it. Here’s some of what she had to say:
It (the 2015 report) follows a similar report released a year ago by the same groups that detailed $136 million in fraud and waste and mismanagement in 15 of the 42 states that operate charter schools. The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report. It notes that these figures only represent fraud and waste in the charter sector uncovered so far, and that the total federal, state, and local governments ‘stand to lose’ in 2015 is probably more than $1.4 billion.
The authors of the report charge that the vast majority of fraud, waste, and mismanagement connected to charters will go undetected due to poor oversight at the federal, state, and local levels. To protect the public’s investment and get the best possible outcome for students, they make several recommendations including the following:
- Required audits to detect and prevent fraud;
- More transparency and accountability regarding charter operators, managers, and the information reported to state agencies charged with preventing fraud; and
- Clear planning-based public investments to ensure that any expansions of charter school investments ensure equity, transparency, and accountability.
CPD and the Alliance are also asking lawmakers to add stronger oversight requirements to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known to many as No Child Left Behind, which is up for reauthorization this year and is currently being debated in Congress.
Meanwhile, the Annenberg Institute, located at Brown University, is also advocating for more oversight and accountability for charter schools. In September, Annenberg released a set of recommended standards and guidelines for charters to protect the interests of students and taxpayers. Annenberg says legislative bodies in several states across the country are considering taking action in relation to the standards, including the Nashville school board, which is currently considering a resolution to endorse similar standards.
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