Shocking semi-example of accountability with DC charter school corruption (but still mishandled)
Last week, DC's Public School Charter Board voted to rescind the charter of the Community Academy Public Charter School group ("DC Charter School Board revokes charter for Height Community Academy Public Charter Schools," Post) because Kent Amos, the founder-director, was using related corporations to "manage"' the school and pay himself about $1 million/year ("D.C. officials allege improper diversion of charter funds," Post). Sadly, parents were advocating for Amos and the schools, in face of the corruption.
While I think that was a somewhat sound move because of the corruption, rather than withdrawing the charter, if the schools are in fact high quality, I think they should have been able to put the school in receivership, keep it going, and put out for bid new management.
2. Today's Post has an article ("DC charter school executive salaries vary widely, Post analysis shows") about varying salaries, many outlandish, of charter school personnel. Many principals/school leaders make significantly higher salaries than DCPS equivalents, including school leaders who make more than the Chancellor (who is overpaid too, given that DC's student population is about 1/3 of that of the area's largest school districts).
3. Note that this issue of related businesses and management contracts of various sorts to mis/direct money for private gain is not new. It's been around probably since the beginning of the schools (e.g., I know of a case where the Charter School's founder has a separate company that handles the transportation needs for the school, and I can't believe that's the only example).
But the Charter School Board claims that they can't force private entities to disclose information about their financial arrangements with the schools ("Charter board could close school amid allegations that leader diverted money," Post).
The basic problem seems to be that the "contracts" between the school and "the city" which are not between "the city" and the charter schools but are with the Public Charter School Board--which is appointed, with limited oversight--FAIL TO INCLUDE SOME OF THE MOST BASIC PROVISIONS TO PROTECT LOCAL INTERESTS.
Since the bulk of school funding comes from "the city" and the schools are public, there should be protections and standards in place to protect the city's interest. This should include:
- ownership of the building
- ceilings on salaries
- restrictions on the creation of allied but "separate" corporations to provide services and siphon funds
- financial disclosure requirements