Tag Archives: Fraud

The Tip of the Iceberg Charter School Vulnerabilities…

…To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse.

Escalating Fraud Warrants Immediate Federal and State Action to Protect Public Dollars and Prevent Financial Mismanagement

MoneybagsA year ago, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) issued a report demonstrating that charter schools in 15 states—about one-third of the states with charter schools—had experienced over $100 million in reported fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. This report offers further evidence that the money we know has been misused is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past 12 months, millions of dollars of new alleged and confirmed financial fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in charter schools have come to light, bringing the new total to over $200 million.

Despite the tremendous ongoing investment of public dollars to charter schools, government at all levels has failed to implement systems that proactively monitor charter schools for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. While charter schools are subject to significant reporting requirements by various public offices (including federal monitors, chartering entities, county superintendents, and state controllers and auditors), very few public offices regularly monitor for fraud.

The number of instances of serious fraud uncovered by whistleblowers, reporters, and investigations suggests that the fraud problem extends well beyond the cases we know about. According to standard forensic auditing methodologies, the deficiencies in charter oversight throughout the country suggest that federal, state, and local governments stand to lose more than $1.4 billion in 2015. b 1 The vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud.

Setting up systems that detect and deter charter school fraud is critical. Investments in strong oversight systems will almost certainly offset the necessary costs. We recommend the following reforms:

  • Mandate audits that are specifically designed to detect and prevent fraud, and increase the transparency and accountability of charter school operators and managers.
  • Clear planning-based public investments to ensure that any expansions of charter school investments ensure equity, transparency, and accountability.
  • Increased transparency and accountability to ensure that charter schools provide the information necessary for state agencies to detect and prevent fraud.

State and federal lawmakers should act now to put systems in place to prevent fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. While the majority of state legislative sessions are coming to an end, there is an opportunity to address the charter school fraud problem on a federal level by including strong oversight requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is currently being debated in Congress. Unfortunately, some ESEA proposals do very little reduce the vulnerabilities that exist in the current law. If the Act is passed without the inclusion of the reforms outlined in this report, taxpayers stand to lose millions more dollars to charter school fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.

>>>Read Entire Report here ~> Charter-Schools-National-Report_rev2

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Prince George’s schools’ test scores drop.

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Source: Washington Post analysis of Maryland School Assessment scores for 2013. Scores reflect combined results for reading and math.. The Washington Post. Published on July 23, 2013, 12:20 p.m.

As the New Board of Education for Prince George’s County reorganizes itself and is determined to bring the necessary changes, we must realize that there is no silver bullet. However, as we articulated before, real improvements in a school system like PGCPS take time and hard work.  As we said before, miraculous sudden improvements in student achievement was likely the result of outright fraud or a rigged evaluation system designed to produce desired results. This notion has been proved right today by news articles in Gazette and Washington Post.

Prince George’s County elementary school mathematics and reading scores are down compared to last year, ending a suspicious “positive four-year streak” driven by what appears to be fraud on state tests, and officials say next year may not be much better. (Read more)

On this note, we must demand changes starting with PGCPS HQ (Sasscer) and not cosmetics changes. We ask our new Board and our CEO to go boldly for administrative reforms that relate to the nuts and bolts of our school system and how it is run. Buses must be made to run on time and we must get rid of administrative waste, and sort through questionable contracts beginning with Thatcher Law firm which is the epicenter of corruption and the legal department. We must change contracting procedures and demand more for our kids instead of high suspension rate we have seen in the past. Above all, we must use appropriate technologies to gain efficiencies as well as, demand effective and timely school-to-parent communications. This is the first and most necessary element for enabling parental involvement as articulated by our sister Blogs in the past.

Finally, we must treat teachers and other staff members as professionals. Listen to them and provide them opportunities to influence how schools are run. We must refrain from arbitrary compensation schemes that will make teachers accountable for conditions they have no control over.  On this note, we must revisit how budget is controlled by Principals without much oversight which is like “Christmas in April.” This does not mean you don’t demand accountability and high performance. However, transparency and accountability initiatives passed into law must be implemented fully. We expect County Executive Rushern Baker, Board Chairman Dr. Segun C. Eubanks and our New Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kevin Maxwell to be a partner, not a punitive leader who are out to get teachers and other staff members. Let us make PGCPS a place that values innovation and professionalism—an attractive place for good teachers and other professionals to work for the good of the county.

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