Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How many DC charter schools are defrauding the citizens by enrolling non-residents?

Money Faucet #2Whenever I ride by charter schools when students are being dropped off or picked up from school, I am struck by a disproportionate number of out-of-state license plates on the cars.  Sure, some of the children are probably in divorced households, with split custodianship, but not that many.

Earlier in the month, the Washington Post reported ("Excel Academy Public Charter School under scrutiny for alleged residency fraud") that two-thirds of the students at Excel Academy haven't been certified as being DC residents. That's the equivalent of almost $7 million in instructional funds being paid to support non-residents.

From the article:
Because students at the city’s public charters and traditional public schools must live in the District to attend — and receive an education funded with thousands of dollars in taxpayer money — enrolling from outside the city’s borders could be considered residency fraud. ... 
A copy of the audit, obtained by The Post, showed that just 196 of the 618 students enrolled at the school were in compliance with OSSE guidelines for residency verification. No documentation to verify residency was provided for 356 students, and 65 student files had residency documents that were out of compliance with OSSE guidelines, such as pay stubs that showed tax withholding in Maryland or utility bills or lease agreements that were provided without a corresponding receipt or canceled check. 
On Monday night, the charter board asked Deborah Lockhart, chair of Excel’s board of trustees, to speak at the board’s meeting “to provide us with assurance that the school was going to be running a clean enrollment operation,” Pearson said.
Separately, apparently two schools have been declared ineligible for playing in the annual high school football Thanksgiving Day game because of having nonresidents on the team.

I presume this is a big problem across many of the schools in the charter "system."

And no one is doing much about it, not the Public Charter School Board. Assurances are not enough. The school should be have a temporary receivership appointed, and a full audit of student residency should be conducted.

2.  This kind of fraud could be a great item for the new elected DC Attorney General to start off investigating. Separately, the current AG (non-elected) has initiated lawsuits alleging fraud against Options Charter School and the Community Academy PCS system for officials creating separate for profit businesses to provide high priced services to their schools, to the pecuniary benefit of the self-interested officials.

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