May 5, 2014

Release: New Report On Charter Industry Exposes $100 Million in Taxpayer Funds Meant For Children Instead Lost To Fraud, Waste & Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2014
CONTACT:
Kyle Serrette: KSerrette@populardemocracy.org, 202-304-8027
Sabrina Stevens: media@integrityineducation.org, 720-295-0238

A new report released today reveals that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.

“Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,” authored by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education, echoes a warning from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General. The report draws upon news reports, criminal complaints and more to detail how, in just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more.

The report also includes recommendations for policymakers on how they can address the problem of rampant fraud, waste and abuse in the charter school industry. Both organizations recommend pausing charter expansion until these problems are addressed.

“We expected to find a fair amount of fraud when we began this project, but we did not expect to find over $100 million in taxpayer dollars lost. That’s just in 15 states. And that figure fails to capture the real harm to children. Clearly, we should hit the pause button on charter expansion until there is a better oversight system in place to protect our children and our communities,” said Kyle Serrette, the Director of Education Justice at the Center for Popular Democracy.”

“Our school system exists to serve students and enrich communities,” added Sabrina Stevens, Executive Director of Integrity in Education. “School funding is too scarce as it is; we can hardly afford to waste the resources we do have on people who would prioritize exotic vacations over school supplies or food for children. We also can’t continue to rely on the media or isolated whistleblowers to identify these problems. We need to have rules in place that can systematically weed out incompetent or unscrupulous charter operators before they pose a risk to students and taxpayers.”

The report can be found at www.populardemocracy.org and www.integrityineducation.org.