September 2021

SEP 30, 2021 – Why charter schools are not as ‘public’ as they claim to be

Proponents of charter schools insist that they are public schools “open to all students.” But the truth is more nuanced. As an education policy researcher – and as author of a new book about charter schools I wrote with fellow researcher Wagma Mommandi – I have discovered that charter schools are not as accessible to the public as they are often made out to be.

This finding is particularly relevant in light of the fact that charter school enrollment reportedly grew at a rapid rate during the pandemic. Specifically, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, enrollment increased 7% from 2019-20 to 2020-21. The organization says that is the biggest enrollment jump in a half-decade.

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SEP 29, 2021 – OPSB seeks to subpoena records from charter school financial contractors

The Orleans Parish School Board has filed a motion in Civil District Court seeking permission to subpoena records from two accounting firms and a financial management firm working for the Dryades YMCA — which runs James M. Singleton Charter School — following an audit that said the nonprofit charter operator owes money to the school.

The request was filed in an ongoing lawsuit the Dryades YMCA filed against the School Board last summer to stop its administrative arm, the NOLA Public Schools district from closing the school. 

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SEP 29, 2021 – OPINION: Fund public schools, forget charters

Mater Academy, Inc., a South Florida charter school company, was granted permission and funding by the Hillsborough County School Board on Sept. 21 to open an elementary and middle school in unspecified Hillsborough locations.

Hillsborough County shouldn’t build more charter schools, which often take advantage of taxpayer dollars to the deficit of students. It should instead focus on improvements to the Hillsborough public education system.

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SEP 27, 2021 – New Lawsuits Show the Tentacles of A3 Charter Scandal Reached into Other States

If money-sucking scams are like vampire squids, then the A3 charter scandal had its tentacles all over California. Nineteen online charter schools pulled in thousands of students (some real, some not) from counties up and down the state. With each student came dollars — roughly $400 million of them.

But new lawsuits reveal the money didn’t stop flowing at California’s border.

Sean McManus and Jason Schrock, who pleaded guilty in February to charges that they led a conspiracy to defraud the public, invested millions of dollars in taxpayer funds into charter school operations in other states.

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SEP 21, 2021 – Hmong College Prep Academy superintendent faces removal over risky investment

In a letter obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the university outlined the areas in which it holds HCPA accountable, including its academic and educational program, its fiscal management, its governance and leadership, and its operations and legal compliance.

Bethel issued a statement Tuesday saying it became aware of “several issues” during its “annual regular authorizing oversight of HCPA” and notified both the charter school and the Minnesota Department of Education.

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SEP 20, 2021 – Charter school in NW Denver temporarily shuts down amid allegations of abuse among administrators

A charter school in northwest Denver is temporarily shuttered amid allegations staff members hit students and grabbed some young students so hard, they left bruise marks on their arms.

Outside Ricardo Flores Magon Academy (RFMA), the playground is silent and inside the classrooms sit empty, when the online school calendar clearly indicates students should be in class Monday.

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SEP 16, 2021 – Two charter schools closing amid state investigation

Two publicly funded charter schools are shutting down following discoveries they’ve been overpaid millions of dollars by the state — taxpayer money erroneously collected after the schools inflated student enrollment and attendance numbers.

The State Board of Education and State Department of Education say Magic Valley-based ARTEC and ARTEI Regional Professional Technical charter schools reported enrollment and attendance data in a manner that does not “conform to state law,” according to an Aug. 18 letter signed by State Board Executive Director Matt Freeman and obtained by EdNews.

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SEP 14, 2021 – Assault allegations surface at charter school in South LA

On the morning of Sept. 13, parents rushed to the Public Policy Charter School in South LA’s Exposition Park neighborhood after getting frantic calls from their kids. The students were told there would be no class that day. 

“My daughter did call me while I was at work and informed me that some people, she didn’t specify if it was staff or the board or anybody. She just said ‘some people came in cursing at us and they pushed and shoved two kids’,” said parent Tina Trujillo.

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SEP 15, 2021 – Paterson educator files discrimination lawsuit against charter school administrators

An educator who was fired from a charter school in 2020 just 10 weeks after being hired as an assistant principal is claiming he was the target of racial discrimination.

Lavon Smith, who is African American, alleged in a lawsuit filed Monday that four white administrators at Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson were allowed to perform their jobs remotely while he and another black male administrator were required to work in person.

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SEP 14, 2021 – Charter schools are publicly funded — but there’s big money in selling them

National Heritage Academies (NHA), the third-largest for-profit charter chain in the nation, is selling 69 of its more than 90 schools to a new corporation created just for the purchase. Charter Development Co., the real estate arm of NHA, will receive the payout from a sale that requires nearly $1 billion to finance. This massive transfer of public dollars into private wealth is running into some roadblocks, however, in NHA’s home state of Michigan.

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SEP 14, 2021 – Oklahoma virtual school board members resign unexpectedly

Two state officials who had been scrutinized over connections to Epic Charter Schools have resigned unexpectedly from the state agency overseeing virtual education programs.

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SEP 10, 2021 – Milwaukee Excellence Charter School CEO removed after findings of misconduct

Maurice Thomas has been ousted as CEO of Milwaukee Excellence Charter School after allegations that he violated the school’s policies, code of conduct and professional standards, according to a spokesperson for the school.   

Families were notified Thursday in a message from the school’s board of directors. The board noted the allegations against Thomas, who founded the school in 2016, were serious in nature but did not involve students. 

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SEP 10, 2021 – California man accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars gets prison for charter school scam

The co-owner of a network of online charter schools who was accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars in California education funds was sentenced Friday to four years in state prison.

Jason Schrock, 46, of Southern California and his business partner, Sean McManus, 48, of Australia, also were ordered to pay $37.5 million in fines, according to the San Diego County district attorney’s office.

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SEP 09, 2021 – After being fined for violating health order, Seven Oaks Classical School is appealing

Seven Oaks Classical School continues to not require masks despite a county mask mandate.

Now, following a ticket issued for violating a county health order with a $250 fine from the Monroe County Health Department and a subsequent appeal from the school, the two parties will discuss the situation in a virtual meeting. 

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SEP 05, 2021 – Michigan pandemic relief dollars went to for-profit cyber schools

When the pandemic hit, academic life at Great Lakes Virtual Academy changed very little — virtual learning systems repelled the wave of disruption that sent traditional school districts into a tailspin.

But the Manistee cyber school’s finances did. By the time the last wave of the pandemic relief money arrives, Great Lakes will have received $4,357 per student.

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