"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

9 Philly Charter Schools Under Investigation; 4 Others with "Significant Issues"

The City of Brotherly Love might as well be re-named the "City of School Management Profiteers". The well-documented Edison debacle - one of the first experiments in privatization of public schools - is giving way to a second round of questionable education practices and profiteers, this time in the form of unregulated charter schools. Of course, one can only wonder how a public school managed to hold a bar/nightclub without scrutiny for such a length of time, but, then again, the public oversight of these private operators is about as effective as the SEC regulators looking over the securities industry.

Butkovitz is one of the few that recognizes the problem, and the man is taking action. 13 of the districts 67 charter schools - roughly 19% - had "significant issues", and 9 of those are also being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Butkovitz cites charter school profiteering

City Controller Alan Butkovitz's investigation of 13 Philadelphia charter schools found repeated examples of complex real estate arrangements in which charters leased or rented facilities from related non-profit organizations.

"The way the charter law is written and not enforced--there is a gigantic loophole through which people can profiteer," Butkovitz said. "This is not supposed to be a vehicle for maximizing profit for operators and related parties."

Butkovitz began his special fraud investigation of charters several months after The Inquirer reported allegations of financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest at Philadelphia Academy Charter School in April 2008.

His staff has been sharing information with the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is conducting a criminal investigation of at least nine area charter schools, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.

Butkovitz's complete report, which will include findings on the School District's oversight of 67 city charters and recommendations for tightening state law, is scheduled to be released Thursday afternoon.

The charters Butkovitz focused on include Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School in West Philadelphia. Butkovitz released part of his report March 30 after 6ABC reported a nightclub operated inside Harambee on weekends.

"The fact there were significant issues at 13 out of 13 raises the likelihood you would see many of these same issues found in a much larger sampling of the schools," Butkovitz said.


Many more details here here.

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