Taxpayers have lost $216 million to charter waste, fraud, and abuse, report says

A new report concludes that taxpayers in 15 states have lost about $216 million to charter-school waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. The report, issued this week by the Center for Popular Democracy, says that number is based on confirmed and alleged reports linked to charter schools.

“Public funding for charter schools (including local, state and federal expenditures) has reached over $30 billion annually,” states the executive summary of the report, titled Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. “Yet despite this tremendous ongoing investment of public dollars to charter schools, government at all levels has failed to implement a system that proactively monitors charter schools for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.”

The report cites several examples, including this one from Wisconsin:

New Hope Institute of Science and Technology

In 2008, Rosella Tucker, founder and director of the now- closed New Hope Institute of Science and Technology charter school in Milwaukee, was convicted in federal court of embezzling $300,000 in public money and sentenced to two years in prison. Tucker acknowledged taking U.S. Department of Education money intended for the school, which she started through a charter agreement with Milwaukee Public Schools. She spent about $200,000 on personal expenses, including cars, funeral arrangements and home improvement, according to court documents. Tucker has argued that the remainder of the money she received was legitimate reimbursement for school-related expenses. Tucker embezzled the $300,000 from 2003 to 2005. The Milwaukee School Board voted to close New Hope Institute of Science and Technology in February 2006, amid problems that included unpaid bills and lack of appropriate teacher licensure.

Many other examples of fraud and mismanagement have been recorded in private charter and voucher schools in Wisconsin. The report warns that the opportunity for abuse may increase.

“With the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal Department of Education is set to increase the pace of spending significantly over the next 10 years, doubling the total federal investment in charter schools in half the time,” states the report.

“With the continuation of inadequate oversight mechanisms and the new influx of federal dollars likely under ESSA, the amount of federal, state, and local dollars at risk of being lost to fraud, waste, and abuse in the charter sector is only going to grow.”

Read a summary of the report at EdVotes.org:

New Report: Taxpayers lose $216 million to charter waste, fraud, and abuse

Tags: Center for Popular Democracy, charter schools, CPD, ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act Tell lawmakers it’s time for tougher standards and more oversight and accountability for charter schools. Click here › A new report concludes that taxpayers in 15 states have lost about $216 million to charter-school waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

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