Auditor General releases charter school audits, calls for overhaul of the law

Information published September 22nd, 2016 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association:

This week state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale held a news conference to once again call for an overhaul of Pennsylvania’s 20-year old charter school law, highlighting recent audits of three charter schools and recommending changes. These changes are in addition to the recommendations he first made in a special report issued in 2014.

DePasquale said that the audit reports “illustrate just how poorly our charter school law is protecting students and taxpayers and ensuring that education dollars help students learn, not help individuals profit.” He also clarified that most of the serious problems, particularly those associated with the management company, lack of transparency and related-party transactions, are permitted under “gray areas” of the law.

The auditor general emphasized that all charter boards should be publicly elected and management companies should be subject to the Open Records Law. He noted failure of the boards to adequately govern various transactions involving millions of dollars of public education funds. In addition, he noted high advertising costs, failure to monitor student attendance, maintain sufficient documentation to support teacher certifications, failure to maintain bus driver qualifications and clearances, and other issues.

“Auditors found that leaders involved with all three of these schools had intermingled relationships that put individual self-interests above student needs while controlling hundreds of millions of taxpayer education funds from nearly every district in the state,” he said.

Click here to read the auditor general’s news release that contains links to the individual audit reports of three charter schools.

PSBA believes that this latest audit further underscores the need for reform to the existing charter school law. The association recently released a report examining Pennsylvania charter school revenues, expenditures and transparency. The findings of the report highlight the need for reform and suggest the need for further study into how charter schools are operated.