July 2020

JUL 31, 2020 – Coronavirus aid money sent to charter schools draws scrutiny

A Beyond the Books investigation calculates a total of $7.9 million in federal Paycheck Protection Act funding was received by Utah charter schools. Charter schools annually receive state and federal funding, while the PPP program is intended to help small businesses to retain employees and keep people on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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JUL 29, 2020 – Woman who stole thousands from a lava-ravaged charter school is sentenced

A former financial officer of a Hawaii Island charter school has been sentenced for embezzling nearly $629,000.

Kelaukila Estabilio, 40, of Hilo admitted to stealing the money from the Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School. It was located in Pahoa until its campus was overrun by lava in the Kilauea eruption of 2018.

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JUL 30, 2020 – Grand jury calls for better oversight of local charter schools

Better oversight is needed for the county’s 12 charter schools, the local civil grand jury concluded earlier this year. Its report, which was released in June, was based on interviews with staff from the Ventura County Office of Education and five districts overseeing charter schools: Oxnard Union, Mesa Union, Moorpark Unified, Ojai Unified and Pleasant Valley.

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JUL 27, 2020 – Four charged with nepotism at Coghill Charter School, state ethics board alleges

The Louisiana Board of Ethics has charged two Better Choice Foundation board members and two former employees of the school it ran — Mary D. Coghill Charter School — for allegedly violating a state law prohibiting agency heads or members of school boards from employing their close family members. 

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JUL 27, 2020 – Newark Charter students, alumni call for change amid allegations of racism

A group of Newark Charter School students and alumni are petitioning the administration for changes, alleging that minority students are subjected to racism that goes unpunished by teachers and administrators.

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JUL 22, 2020 – Teachers association sues education commissioner over charter school contract rules

On Wednesday, July 22, the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) announced it is suing the state’s education commissioner over charter school rules that it claims illegally remove teacher certification and contractual requirements.

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JUL 24, 2020 – Controversy follows receipt of Paycheck Protection Program funds by public charter schools

At least 50 North Carolina charter schools received money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, created to help small businesses and nonprofits stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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JUL 22, 2020 – Auditor General calls for change to state’s charter school law after review of PA Cyber, Lincoln Park

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called upon the state General Assembly on Wednesday to reform Pennsylvania’s charter school law after his review of Lincoln Learning Solutions’ recent tax filings.

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JUL 21, 2020 – Former principal sues Light of the World Academy, school director

A former administrator at a Pinckney charter school is suing the school and it’s director, claiming he was fired for stopping illegal practices.

In the lawsuit, filed in September, James Reese said Light of the World Academy fired him at following the 2017-2018 school year after he opposed actions by Kathy Moorehouse, the school’s director. 

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JUL 21, 2020 – Expensive Miami private schools got millions in PPP loans. So did charter schools

Some of Miami-Dade’s wealthiest private schools and publicly funded charter schools are benefiting from millions of federal dollars that are supposed to keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic.

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JUL 17, 2020 – Former director of L.A. charter schools admits to embezzling $3.1 million in funds

The former executive director of a Los Angeles charter school operator on Friday agreed to plead guilty to embezzling $3.1 million in school funds that she spent on her personal use, including Disney cruises and theme park admissions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

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JUL 17, 2020 – Nevada charter school ends business ties with American Preparatory Schools in Utah

A set of controversial guidelines recommending that Orange County public school students return to their campuses without basic coronavirus precautions has ties to an anti-union, pro-charter school group that is looking to open a new campus in August.

Members of the county’s Board of Education on Monday voted 4-1 to approve guidelines allowing for the reopening of schools without masks, social distancing or reduced class sizes as children, it claimed, “play a very minor role in COVID-19.”

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JUL 17, 2020 Former Head of Community Preparatory Academy Admits Stealing Over $3 Million and Spending $220,000 on Disney Expenses

Federal prosecutors today filed criminal theft and tax fraud charges against the former executive director of a charter school outfit who stole more than $3.1 million that should have been spent on school operations, but instead financed a lifestyle that included extravagant spending on Disney cruises and theme park admissions.

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JUL 17, 2020 – Charter Academy & Director Being Sued By Former Principal

A Livingston County charter school and its founder are being sued by a former principal who says he was fired for intervening against illegal practices.

A lawsuit has been filed by James Reese against Light of the World Academy, in Pinckney, and its founder, Kathy Moorehouse. 

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JUL 15, 2020 – Fraud audit report: Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School missing more than $500K

Missing money is the latest problem to plague the troubled Easton Area Arts Elementary Charter School.

According to a 14-page fraud audit report given to 69 News by a source, an alleged fraudulent 1099 tax form from 2018 was issued to subcontractor PenTeleData, the schools internet and communications provider for more than $570,000 about 10% of the school’s revenue for 2018.

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JUL 07, 2020 – Low enrollment, financial trouble forces Winston-Salem charter school to close

B.L.U.E.–G.R.E.E.N. Academy (BGA), a Winston-Salem charter school, is going out of business after one year because it could not enroll the minimum 80 students needed by Tuesday to remain open.

The school, founded to improve academic outcomes for low-income students in underserved communities, is also without a home after St. Peter’s Outreach Church did not renew its lease.

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JUL 11, 2020 – Choice, Charter Schools Get Big Payday

When the federal government created its small-business loan program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear from the start that public schools would not be eligible for the aid.

But data for Wisconsin released on Monday shows a large number of voucher and charter schools that describe themselves as public schools, and receive public money, have also received millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans meant for small businesses.

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JUL 13, 2020 – Virus loans in Tucson: Charter, private schools got millions; school districts left out

Tucson-area private and charter schools have collected millions in federal coronavirus relief loans not available to public district schools despite the fact that a number of them also qualified for emergency stimulus funding.

However, charter schools don’t have the level of financial impact that many small businesses do because they continued to receive taxpayer funding throughout the crisis, said Dave Wells, research director with the Grand Canyon Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

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JUL 13, 2020 – Epic founders claim for-profit managers ‘earned’ millions being questioned by State Auditor

Attorneys are still battling in court in the state’s legal effort to compel Epic Charter Schools’ for-profit operator to comply with an investigative audit, newly filed public records reveal.

Epic’s founders now claim the tens of millions in question by the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector are “earned” by the school management company they own to provide goods and services.

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JUL 10, 2020 – Ex-CEO of Lehigh Valley charter school enters plea in $42K theft

The former CEO of Arts Academy Elementary Charter School has entered a plea to resolve criminal charges for allegedly stealing $42,000 from the Allentown school’s corporate bank account.

Jason “Jay” Eitner, 41, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, pleaded nolo contendere to theft by deception on July 2 in Lehigh County Court, according to court records. With his plea, Eitner accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt.

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JUL 10, 2020 – Charter schools may have double-dipped as much as $1 billion in PPP small business loans

Charter schools across the country tapped the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for what could have been more  than $1 billion, according to a preliminary analysis of Treasury Department data.

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JUL 08, 2020 – CPS Wants Federal ‘Small Business’ Loans For Charter Schools Investigated

Chicago Public Schools has asked the school district’s inspector general to investigate whether more than a dozen charter schools should have received millions of dollars through federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans designed to help small businesses deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

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JUL 07, 2020 – Millions in PPP money flowed to nine Arkansas charter schools, plus many private schools

As real public schools desperately search for money to operate in the pandemic, charter school  privately run schools operated with public tax money and waivers from state rules governing real public schools — got helped by federal Paycheck Protection Program money.

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JUL 07, 2020 – At the high-ranked Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, a troubling pattern on issues of race

The questions came from parents, from alumni, from the president of the class of 2020. How would Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, known for rigorous academics and ranked a top high school in Massachusetts, address a long and alarming list of concerns about diversity, inclusion, and the treatment of students of color?

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JUL 07, 2020 – Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks’ controversial charter school

Diane Hendricks, the Beloit billionaire caught on film in 2011 urging former Gov. Scott Walker to make Wisconsin a “completely red” “right-to-work” state, has a new project — a charter school that will focus on serving low-income students in her adopted hometown.

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JUL 06, 2020 – Dozens of Pa. charter schools among recipients of federal small business aid

Dozens of Pennsylvania charter schools received PPP loans, including: Pa. Leadership and Pa. Virtual cyber charter schools; an organization linked to Chester Community Charter School; I-Lead; KIPP; Esperanza; and Franklin Towne.

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JUL 04, 2020 – Firing of Principal Raises Concerns for Charter School’s Future

The termination of a principal at The Ethical Community Charter School has outraged parents and students and has many fearing the school may not survive.

Marta Bergamini, who was principal for 11 years, was relieved of her duties on June 29 with several board members claiming they were not able to come up with an agreement on her contract which was due to expire the following day. 

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JUL 02, 2020 – APS shuts down beleaguered Aurora Community charter school

Aurora Public Schools opted to shutter a nascent north Aurora charter school this week after a year of uncertainty and — former employees have said — chaos. 

The APS school board unanimously voted June 30 to revoke its charter with Aurora Community School, a school that struggled to build its own school location and, in the 2019-2020 school year, was operating out of a Crowne Plaza hotel in Denver and then a church. 

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JUL 02, 2020 – EDITORIAL: City schools trapped in spiral

York City School District is trapped in a death spiral.

It’s stuck under years-long state management that limits how money can be spent. Charter schools are annually sucking more than $25 million from its budget. Miserly state lawmakers foist the responsibility for funding public education on local officials, thereby fostering a system that rewards students in rich communities and punishes those in poor ones. 

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