April 2021

APR 23, 2021 – ‘Deceived’: Indianapolis charter school pitch left out lawsuits, touted questionable college degrees

The Mind Trust had known about the financial mismanagement and still supported Al-Nasir’s charter school bid, saying that he deserved a second chance — until Al-Nasir, when asked about his academic credentials last week, provided information that “raised even more questions about the validity of the degrees,” The Mind Trust CEO Brandon Brown said.

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APR 28, 2021 – Orange charter school overcharged for disabled student services, district says

A charter school run by UCP of Central Florida appears to have altered student education plans to show children needed more intensive services than really required, wrongly boosting its funding by nearly $60,000, according to an ongoing Orange County Public Schools investigation.

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APR 27, 2021 – Former White House Adviser Is Charged With Stealing From Charter School Network

A former senior adviser in the Obama administration was arrested Tuesday on charges that he stole more than $200,000 from a network of charter schools that he founded and used the money to get a lower interest rate on a mortgage for a Manhattan apartment, federal prosecutors said.

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APR 26, 2021 – Arizona attorney general launches investigation into microschool company and its partner

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into microschool company Prenda and its partner EdKey over their relationship, which allows Prenda to educate children at people’s homes with little regulation. 

Under the arrangement, EdKey enrolls students in its Sequoia online school and collects charter school funding from the state. The students, however, are taught Prenda’s curriculum by “guides” that Prenda hires.

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APR 22, 2021 – Many charter schools facing financial burdens after enrollment drop

Dozens of charter schools in Arizona could be facing serious financial problems, even closure, due to pandemic-related drops in enrollment, according to a watchdog group that tracks charter school finances.

Data released April 1 from the Arizona Department of Education shows more than 250 of the state’s 420 charter schools have lost students this year. 

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APR 24, 2021 – Idaho charter school executive paid public funds to companies her family owns

Idaho charter school administrator Laura Sandidge and the Another Choice Virtual Charter board of directors authorized hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer spending to companies Sandidge co-owns, without following proper ethics procedures, the Idaho Professional Standards Commission found.

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APR 20, 2021 – Police report, audit suggest James Singleton School’s background checks fabricated

A New Orleans police report obtained by WWL television details allegations that officials at James Singleton Charter School, which is run by the Dryades YMCA in Central City, fabricated criminal background checks for school employees. An internal school investigation attached to the Police Department incident report suggests the Y’s recently resigned chief financial officer, Catrina Reed, might have played a role in the bogus background checks, including her own 2005 background check, which indicated she didn’t have a rap sheet when she actually did.

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APR 21, 2021 – John Thompson: More Oklahoma Charter School Scandals

As the Oklahoma charter school scandals keep expanding, they provide a case study in the political dangers traditional public schools face as extreme charter advocates attack schools struggling with the COVID pandemic. Each week brings new headlines about some Market-driven charter activists, and their devotion to the law of the jungle. Others are propelled by self-righteousness, denigrating the sincerity of anyone who disagrees with them. But these attacks also show that the choice zealots’ tactics could backfire, putting their competition-driven reform experiment in jeopardy.

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APR 16, 2021 – Union Co. charter school calls emergency meeting about safety after teacher’s death connected to drug cartel

Monroe Police have increased surveillance and patrols at Union Academy Charter School after a teacher’s death was connected to a Mexican drug cartel.

On April 8, Alamance County Sheriff’s deputies say Barney Harris was shot and killed at a mobile home in Alamance County. Harris was a teacher and coach at Union Academy Charter School.

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APR 16, 2021 – Epic Charter School Hit With $10 Million In Penalties

Epic Charter School has been hit with more than $10 million in penalties by Oklahoma’s State Department of Education.

The sanctions are largely due to accusations by the state of Epic violating a virtual charter school transparency law passed in 2019.

In a pair of letters to Epic’s One-on-One Charter School and Epic’s Blended Charter School, the district is accused of misreporting how it spends money to the state and overpaying for administrative costs. 

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APR 16, 2021 – Charter school waitlist data is inflated; exact number of students is unknown

A report touting 76,000 names on charter school waiting lists across North Carolina could give the wrong impression about demand for charters.

It’s true that interest and enrollment have grown in charters, which are public schools but free of many of the rules and regulations traditional public schools must follow. But 76,000 names on waitlists aren’t the same as 76,000 students. That’s a point even the Office of Charter Schools, the agency that regulates the state’s 200 charters, was compelled to make in its 2020 Annual Report to the General Assembly.

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APR 14, 2021 – New York City is Overspending on Charter School Facilities, Underspending on Matching Funds for District Public Schools

A new Class Size Matters report, DoE Overspending On Charter School Facility Costs and Underspending On Matching Funds To Public Schools reveals that the New York City Department of Education has overspent by many millions on rent for charter schools, while denying co-located traditional public schools millions of dollars of their legally-required matching funds for facility upgrades and repairs.

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APR 13, 2021 – Philadelphia Charter School Chief’s Embezzlement Conviction OK

A lawyer and businessman who contracted with the city of Philadelphia to run a charter school was properly convicted of embezzling more than $800,000 despite a delay in getting to trial, the Third Circuit ruled Tuesday, rejecting speedy trial and other challenges.

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APR 13, 2021 – OKCPS requests investigative audit of Santa Fe South charter school

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board voted unanimously Monday night to request an investigative audit of Santa Fe South Charter Schools, whose superintendent is also in charge of a nonprofit development corporation that supports Santa Fe South and loaned $300,000 to another local charter school.

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APR 09, 2021 – Former charter school official sent to prison for embezzling funds

The former superintendent of Houston Gateway Academy has been ordered to federal prison after taking more than a ¼ million dollars, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Richard Garza, 61, Houston, pleaded guilty Sept. 20, 2019.

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APR 06, 2021 – Termination Hearing Set For Epic Charter School District After Board Shake-Up

The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board set a termination hearing for the Epic One-on-One Charter School district to review alleged violations of its operating contract. 

On Tuesday, the board, which has not met since January, denied Epic’s motion to dismiss the allegations and scheduled the hearing for May 12 and 13. 

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APR 06, 2021 – Minneapolis nonprofit may face ‘corrective action’ for flawed supervision of 21 charter schools.

Pillsbury United Communities, a nonprofit organization that provides oversight to 21 charter schools in Minnesota, faces possible corrective action from the state Department of Education. That prospect follows low performance ratings for its processes and decision-making, as revealed in Pillsbury’s routine five-year authorizer review with the state. 

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APR 01, 2021 – Pillsbury United announces intent to close landmark Cedar Riverside Community School

Pillsbury United Communities plans to close Cedar Riverside Community School, one of the first charter schools in the country, school board chair Janet Youngers announced at a board meeting on Thursday. Unless the school wins an appeal, it will close as soon as June 30.

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