To view scandals from prior years:

February 2019

FEB 23, 2019 – Cyber charter school costs are under the microscope

Tiffany Nix, superintendent of Leechburg Area schools, watched in frustration for years as hundreds of thousands of dollars went out the doors of her small, cash-strapped district with families who enrolled their children in cyber charter schools.

“We were paying $13,000 to $24,000 a year for each of them. It comes to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year out of a budget of $15 million,” Nix said.

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FEB 19, 2019 – Audit: Former Columbus charter school overstated attendance

A short-lived Columbus charter school improperly over reported its attendance and could not document a cash withdrawal of $806, according to an audit by the office of Ohio Auditor Keith Faber.

First Time Learners Academy, which operated for less than five months in 2013, was ordered to repay $7,735 to the Ohio Department of Education for claiming state funds for more students than enrolled, the audit found.

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FEB 22, 2019 – Arizona charter school founder spent school money in Hawaii and on ‘spiritual healers’

“Too numerous to list.” 

That’s how a federal trustee described the number of suspicious purchases an alternative charter school founder made with taxpayer funds. 

Trish McCarty ran StarShine Academy, a Phoenix alternative charter school, up until last year when the Arizona State Board For Charter Schools shut it down for “egregious” financial mismanagement.

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FEB 18, 2019 – R.I. charter school Times² failing to deliver, state finds

A local charter school with STEM in its title has come under fire by the state Department of Education for not offering a rigorous and well-designed selection of science courses.

The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Read more…

FEB 19, 2019 – Aurora school board votes to close new charter school, saying it failed students with special needs

Vega Collegiate Academy must close at the end of the school year after the Aurora school board determined the charter was failing to educate properly students with special needs.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the district’s recommendation to revoke the school’s charter. 

Read more…

FEB 19, 2019 – A top D.C. charter school faces federal review over discipline practices

One of the District’s highest-performing charter schools is under federal investigation amid allegations it more harshly disciplines African American students.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights launched a probe into potentially biased discipline practices at BASIS DC — a middle and high school in downtown Washington with a long waiting list.

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FEB 19, 2019 – Arizona charter school chain racked up big debt to expand. Now 5,600 kids face uncertainty

The Arizona charter school chain Edkey Inc. began eyeing expansion in 2013.

In addition to schools that focus on the arts, dual-language learning, college prep and online education, Edkey executives wanted to keep serving more of the students other big charter operators were overlooking: deaf students, those in rural areas, homeless kids and refugees.

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FEB 19, 2019 – Charter schools exploit lucrative loophole that would be easy to close

While critics charge that charter schools are siphoning money away from public schools, a more fundamental issue frequently flies under the radar: the questionable business practices that allow people who own and run charter schools to make large profits.

Charter school supporters are reluctant to acknowledge, much less stop, these practices.

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FEB 16, 2019 – A top D.C. charter school faces federal review over discipline practices

One of the District’s highest-performing charter schools is under federal investigation amid allegations it more harshly disciplines African American students.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights launched a probe into potentially biased discipline practices at BASIS DC — a middle and high school in downtown Washington with a long waiting list.

Read more…

FEB 14, 2019 – Camden Academy student told to remove Nigerian head wrap

A student at Camden Academy Charter High and her mother are enraged after the school told the girl to remove her Nigerian head wrap because it was in violation of the school’s uniform policy.

Geniah Miller says that she was approached by the school’s principal and was questioned about the head dress. When she explained the meaning behind the garment she was told to remove it.

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FEB 16, 2019 – State pulls charter of troubled Little Rock school

The state Board of Education on Friday voted to immediately revoke Covenant Keepers College Preparatory School’s state-issued charter after learning that unauthorized withdrawals from the school’s bank account had left the school’s sponsor without enough money to operate.

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FEB 14, 2019 – Surprise: Add missing money to woes of problem-plagued charter school once run by Valerie Tatum

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports today that a would-be charter school operator in Little Rock says his job’s been made more difficult by the discovery that Valerie Tatum, the former leader of Covenant Keepers College Preparatory Charter School had, in recent days, drained more than $188,000 from an account necessary to operate the school. 

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FEB 13, 2019 – Man extradited from Spain faces charges in Santa Ana charter school embezzlement case

More than a decade ago, an audit uncovered that the executive director of a Santa Ana charter school had funneled millions in state funds to several businesses he owned.

After being extradited from Spain, Emilio Vazquez arrived in Orange County recently to face decade-old felony charges that include misappropriation of public funds, forgery and grand theft, the Orange County district attorney’s office said Wednesday.

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FEB 13, 2019 – PiSA charter school administrator Dan Neddo addresses dozens of allegations in Kuna

Close to 30 allegations ranging from inappropriate conduct to not fulfilling job duties have been brought up against a Kuna charter school administrator. Dan Neddo, who was put on administrative leave for a second time in December, addressed those allegations Thursday, Feb. 7, in a hearing.

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FEB 11, 2019 – SYVUHSD says charter school funding could bankrupt the district

One Santa Barbara County school district says keeping a local charter school open could cause them to go bankrupt.

California’s Department of Education recently decided the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District has to help fund Olive Grove Charter School, a public school with six different locations.

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FEB 07, 2019 – Arizona’s charter school board spends $4K a month on crisis PR expert

After a year of stunning revelations about charter school owners who are making millions off of their publicly funded schools, we now know how the state board that (sorta) oversees charter schools has responded.

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FEB 06, 2019 – Number don’t lie on charter schools

The argument that Alma is academically superior just doesn’t hold water; it is simply attracting and accepting students who require fewer resources while failing to teach them effectively and depriving our starving public schools of vital funding.

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FEB 07, 2019 – Investigation into local charter schools

The Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center and Bingham Academy are being investigated for allegations of financial mismanagement. The state charter school commission was in town Thursday asking questions.

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FEB 07, 2019 – Former Alma d’Arte employees and ex-business manager charged with embezzlement

Two former employees of the Alma d’Arte Charter High School were charged Monday with multiple felonies stemming from a New Mexico State Police investigation last fall into fraud and embezzlement at the school.

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FEB 07, 2019 – Charter Schools Are Pushing Public Education to the Brink

When striking Los Angeles teachers won their demand to call for a halt to charter school expansions in California, they set off a domino effect, and now teachers in other large urban districts are making the same demand.

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FEB 05, 2019 – Pittsburgh Christian Academy Tries to Become a Charter School to Cash in on Taxpayer Funding

The line between public and private school is getting awfully thin in Pittsburgh.

City public school directors received a request from Imani Christian Academy, a religious school in the East Hills, to be allowed to transform into Imani Academy Charter School for the Fall term of 2019.

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FEB 04, 2019 – Charter Schools: The Issue is Not Student Scores on High-Stakes Standardized Tests Produced by Big Business

Charter school supporters and promoters have long been severely obsessed with comparing charter school and public school students’ scores on expensive curriculum-narrowing high-stakes standardized tests produced by big corporations. 

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FEB 04, 2019 – Second thoughts about charter schools

Initially, charter schools appear to be exactly what is needed to correct problems facing Kansas’ schools, and some school reformers advocate for the 2019 legislature to approve broadening the charter school statute.

Yet, examination of the effects of loosening charter regulations reveals genuine flaws that need restraint.

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FEB 04, 2019 – Charter school parents press for details on director’s departure

Two weeks after the sudden departure of the Coastal Montessori Charter School director Nathalie Hunt, parents and staff asked the school’s board this week for details. About 30 people attended the charter board’s meeting.

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FEB 02, 2019 – Charter Schools Are Not Public Schools

Why do charter schools and their boosters insist on using the term “public”? Here’s what Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told Emma Brown of the Washington Post as he argued that charters are public schools.

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FEB 01, 2019 – Charter reform? Bill to rein in charter operators has big exemptions for major players

Legislation introduced by an influential Republican state senator would require charter schools to disclose more about their finances. But the bill contains a large loophole that would allow the state’s biggest chains like Basis Charter Schools and Great Hearts Academies to avoid revealing how they spend their money.

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FEB 01, 2019 – Taken For a Ride: Charter school bus firms cutting corners to save money

Public records the station collected from 90 New Orleans area charter schools showed the independent charter school operators generally lack control over their school bus vendors, leading to major safety violations and disturbing incidents.

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January 2019

JAN 28, 2019 – Utah college has no record it sold modulars to Idaho charter school administrator

Salt Lake Community College has no documentation of modulars sold to Idaho charter school administrator Fred Ball, though Ball’s Blackfoot-based school reimbursed him $16,000 for their purchase.

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JAN 31, 2019 – How Do Arizona’s Charter Schools Get Away With Swindling Students and Fleecing Taxpayers?

Do you know how many charter schools have come and gone over the past 25 years? Don’t feel bad; the State of Arizona doesn’t know, either. 

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JAN 30, 2019 – Why aren’t Montgomery’s charter schools following the rules?

There is a process in place to approve charter schools in Alabama.

And somehow, Montgomery continues to get charter schools approved without following it.

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JAN 22, 2019 – St. Louis College Prep Under Investigation For Fraud

St. Louis College Prep has lost tens of thousands of dollars in state funding amidst an investigation into whether the charter school’s founder over-reported attendance records.

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JAN 28, 2019 – Nonprofits allege charter school faked their support 

The state education department is investigating whether the director of a charter school proposed for a former mill building on Merrimack Street faked letters from several local nonprofit agencies professing their support for the state license needed to open the school.

Read more…

JAN 27, 2019 – Pennsylvania’s failure to oversee cyber charter schools has wide consequences

The majority of cyber charter schools in the state are operating with expired charters. This is the latest black mark in a history of “reform” in the state designed to expand educational choices but, despite some bright spots, has been marked by large-scale indifference and neglect from the state.

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JAN 21, 2019 – Are charter school building leases fleecing Ohio taxpayers?

For-profit management companies are receiving rents from the Ohio charter schools they operate that are significantly higher than rents of comparable buildings in the same area, according to a report released by former state auditor Dave Yost.

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JAN 25, 2019 – LA teachers make the case that charter schools are an existential threat to public education

Latona teachers I spoke with described competition from surrounding charter schools as an existential threat to their school and an undermining influence on the public system.

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JAN 24, 2019 – Bradenton charter school bookkeeper suspected of theft

Melissa Tapia, the former bookkeeper at Team Success charter school, is suspected of stealing more than $340,000 from the school and its management firm, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Read more…

JAN 25, 2019 – Langston Hughes Academy Ordered Closed By State

The State Board of Education voted Thursday to close a troubled Tulsa charter school at the end of this school year. In mid-2018 the State Department of Education received a tip that administrators at Langston Hughes Academy were tampering with students’ grades. 

Read more… 

JAN 22, 2019 – State audit closes book on $44,000 theft by DECA charter school worker

The state audit released Tuesday found $44,725 in improper credit card purchases between January 2010 and February 2017 by Cynthia Shoemaker, the former assistant to the schools’ treasurer.

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JAN 23, 2019 – Unusual framework leaves Utah charter school in financial trouble

The audit discovered that almost half of AISU’s transactions — $125,000 worth — didn’t have backing receipts, purchase orders or invoices. 

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JAN 22, 2019 – Michigan online charter school founder charged with embezzling more than $100,000

Embezzlement charges were issued against the founder of an online charter school with offices in Saginaw and Grand Rapids after Michigan State Police launched an investigation into fraudulent practices.

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JAN 22, 2019 – Catasauqua schools must be reimbursed for defunct charter school’s pension obligations, court rules

Catasauqua Area School District is not liable for a defunct charter school’s unpaid pension payments for teachers and must be reimbursed, a state court has ruled.

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JAN 21, 2019 – What Happens When A Charter School Closes?

Eight year-old MacKenzie Whistler had a rough start to her Christmas break. She had just found out that she would not be returning to her new school, Global Achievers School in Rocky Mount, this January.

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JAN 19, 2019 – Second executive at L.A. charter schools network Celerity charged with conspiracy, making false statements

The former chief executive of the Los Angeles-based charter school network Celerity Educational Group has been charged with conspiracy to misappropriate and embezzle public funds

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JAN 18, 2019 – Beyond the Books: Charter schools spend millions on advertising

Trent Young says he was stunned on a Friday afternoon when the director of the school for which he worked, Utah Career Path High School, asked he and other teachers to hang up a bunch of glossy posters advertising the school.

Read more…

JAN 17, 2019 – Principal of New Haven charter school quits after video surfaces

One of the top rated charter schools in the country, New Haven’s Achievement First Amistad High School, is under scrutiny again for going too far with discipline.

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JAN 17, 2019 – Tulsa World editorial: Time to scrutinize funding to virtual charter schools

Virtual charter schools continue taking up a larger share of the overall public education budget at the expense of traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

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JAN 15, 2019 – Ethics probe: Charter school leader wanted to hire family members

In the October settlement agreement, Gilbert-Mosley admitted that she violated ethics laws by authorizing employment contracts with her daughter and mother.

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JAN 15, 2019 – Chancellor of shuttered Española charter school facing new sexual misconduct lawsuit

The chancellor of a now-shuttered charter school in Española is facing a second lawsuit in less than a year alleging sexual misconduct.

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JAN 14, 2019 – In Pa., most cyber charter schools operate with expired state agreements

Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School enrolled nearly 2,600 students last year, several hundred more than it did in 2012. That’s the year the cyber school’s charter expired.

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JAN 13, 2019 – Lower state report card grades open door for massive expansion of vouchers, charter schools

Tougher state tests and lower grades for schools and districts across Ohio have opened the doors for a potentially massive expansion of vouchers and charter schools.

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JAN 07, 2019 – Charter school reacts to sending students to unlicensed tutoring facility

Turns out the center which had been operating out of a row home on Minnesota Avenue, SE for at least a year never had business license. 

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JAN 10, 2019 – Charter school hired principal with criminal past, then fired him for sexual harassment

The allegations against Green include a shocking audio recording, made by former William J. Fischer social studies teacher Lindsay Garcia, who claims Green is the man in the recording telling her he wants to “snatch up, kidnap, subdue… someone we both know.”

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JAN 10, 2019 – 2 Goodyear charter school employees indicted in $2.2M fraud case

Two former employees of a now-closed charter school in Goodyear were indicted for fraud Wednesday, months after the former director pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft.

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JAN 10, 2019 – Report: More than 100 Arizona charter schools are in danger of closing

More than 100 charter schools in Arizona are in danger of closing, due to financial mismanagement, declining enrollment, and mounting debt.

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JAN 09, 2019 – Ex-basketball coach at Chicago charter high school charged with sexually assaulting 2 girls

A basketball coach at a charter school on Chicago’s West Side has been charged with sexually assaulting and molesting two underage female team members on repeated occasions at the school and elsewhere.

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JAN 08, 2019 – Many SC charter schools are racially imbalanced, triggering investigations

Most South Carolina public charter schools do not reflect the racial makeup of the school districts where they are located, according to student headcounts from the 2017-18 school year.

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JAN 07, 2019 – UPDATE: Three Northwest Indiana charter schools warned of financial concerns in state audits

A series of independent audits made public at the end of 2018 by the Indiana State Board of Accounts warned of financial stress in three Lake County charter schools.

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JAN 05, 2019 – Chino Valley Unified: County school board had conflicts of interest in charter school vote

According to Chino Valley Unified staff, at least two county school board members had conflicts of interest that should have kept them from voting on the proposed charter school on Dec. 3.

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JAN 02, 2019 – This Indiana virtual charter school graduated just 2 percent of its students in 2018

One of the state’s largest and most controversial virtual charter schools graduated a smaller percentage of students than nearly every other public school in the state in 2018, new state data shows.

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JAN 03, 2019 – DC mom blows whistle on unlicensed business serving charter school students

Questions remain unanswered on how an unlicensed alternative charter school was able to operate in D.C. while taking in special needs students from at least six different charter schools.

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