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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida charter school problems are real, former investigator writes



Stories about the underbelly of Florida charter schools have flowed forth in recent days, on topics including charter politics, financing and student selection. Former Miami-Dade investigator Robert Asencio, president of the Florida Public Employees Partnership, has added his voice to the mix.

He writes in a new blog post that fraud and mismanagement are possible in charters because of weak laws and the impossibility of effective oversight:

"Where as, I do not claim to be an expert in the business of running Charter Schools my investigative experience provided a good insight into the big businesses of collecting Tax Dollars for educating public school children. It is from this insight that I share the following:

"In every one of our investigative cases, the schools were set up as nonprofit organizations. Most hired management companies to oversee the day to day operation of the schools. They all had a Board of Directors, had applied for and granted a Charter to be a school from local school districts as governed by Florida State Statute 1002.33. Their main source of revenue was per pupil funding – called Full Time Equivalent (FTE). Some received more funding based on student disabilities. In every case the drive to recruit more students was the primary focus of the schools and management companies. Most schools had received additional funding from available grants and all claimed Tax Exemptions as nonprofit organizations.

"In just about every case the founders of the Charter Schools had ties to the Board of Directors which authorized the hiring of the management companies to run the schools. Even worse, we discovered the owners of the management companies were either the same as the school founders or were directly connected to them. All of which revealed major conflicts of interests in most of the decisions made on the spending of Tax Dollars and education of students."

Check out his full post here.

[Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 2:37pm]


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