Charter School Abruptly Closes, Leaving Parents in Lurch
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Driving Schools into the Ground, One Charter at a Time
Despite all the talk about accountability and the relentless assault of the public school system by charter advocates and their wealthy funders, real oversight of charter schools is 1) severely lacking and 2) doesn't have any real power to regulate these private versions of public schools.
Let me introduce you to Chase Academy for Communication Arts, which, despite it's name, is not affiliated with the banking giant. That didn't keep the head of the school, Celia Jones, from treating the school's budget like a credit card: in April of 2007, she was suspended for an assortment of violations related to shoddy finances. But the most egregious abuse was charging students that qualified for reduced lunch prices almost double the amount they should have paid ($1 instead of $.60 - the charter folks sure know how to treat the poor well, don't they!).
Just six months later, the school came under fire again, this time due to nepotism, more financial mishandling, the hiring of a board member as a contractor, and the school's lack of nonprofit status (just like the Imagine Schools folks).
At some point in time, Jones departed the school for greener pastures and a new principal was brought in to right the ship. Serious corrections never panned out, and the school's authorizer, Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc, released annual reports showing the school was not up to par.
And just today, the school announced that it will be closing, and closing soon - tomorrow, in fact, which gives parents and students all of one weekend to adjust to this major mid-year change. Say what you like about charters or public schools, but mid-year closures clearly does not serve the interest of students, parents, or teachers. In this case, the school will close because their attendance numbers were greatly inflated, although the Ohio DOE spokesperson claims they don't suspect fraud (seriously?). 10TV promises to provide updates as the investigation into how the numbers were so far off.
From 10TV News in Ohio: