In Philadelphia, six charters are being scrutinized by the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is considering criminal action. Most of it has to do with misuse of funds.
Houston Philadelphia, we have a problem.
Aiming to end abuses recently uncovered in Philadelphia-area charter schools, a bipartisan legislative committee yesterday unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the state's 12-year-old charter law.In Arizona, we don't have problems of that magnitude -- that we know of. Of course, since no one is exercising active oversight of our charters, we don't know what we'd find if we looked, do we?
Maybe we can learn from the problems uncovered in Philadelphia and similar problems in other states, including financial abuses among current and former Arizona charters. As one Pennsylvania legislator commented, "You just can't assume - you have to protect public money and make sure it's spent in the most effective way for students."
Here are the changes proposed by the PA committee:
Increasing financial oversight of charters. The proposed Office of Charter and Cyber Charter Schools in the Department of Education would have the authority to investigate complaints of fraud and financial mismanagement such as those raised by parents at the Agora Cyber Charter School in Devon.
Limiting the hiring of relatives, such as occurred at Philadelphia Academy in the Northeast and Community Academy in Kensington.
Allowing 25 parents to ask the court to remove charter school board members who fail to follow the law. Parents who voiced questions at Agora and Philadelphia Academy were told they could withdraw their children. Agora founder Dorothy June Brown sued several parents who questioned Agora's contract with a management company she owned.
Barring charter administrators from being paid through contracts with the district that authorized the charter. Former administrators at Philadelphia Academy had a special-education contract with the Philadelphia District. The top two administrators at Community Academy run a nonprofit that has an alternative-education contract with the district.