Charter mismanagement costs taxpayers big time

Here's a great way to be your own boss. Be on a government committee that approves charter schools (the Charter School Advisory Board) and then collect management fees from the schools you get to approve. Can you say, conflict of interest?? Evidently the NCGA can't as they have allowed this situation to come to pass.

Lindsay Wagner of NC Policy Watch reports:

South Brunswick Charter School will be operated by the Roger Bacon Academy and will rent property from Coastal Conservancy, LLC. Baker A. Mitchell Jr.—who happens to sit on the Charter School Advisory Board—owns both of those entities.

Mitchell, who currently operates three other public charter schools in the state, paid himself nearly $1.8 million in 2012 for what he characterized as “management fees” to the IRS for running Charter Day School. He has reportedly collected in the neighborhood of $16 million over a five-year period in management fees alone, according to Pruden’s impact statement

All of that money, of course, is taxpayer funds. But Mitchell doesn’t have to explain how, for example, he used $630,696 of taxpayer dollars for staff development, as reported on his 2012 Form 990.

$1.8 mill of our tax dollars have gone into the pocket of one man, Baker A. Mitchell, Jr., instead of into the public classrooms of our state. And that man then turned around and rented facilities from himself for housing those schools. Yet NCGA allotted only $14 per child for textbooks this year. But this one guy gets to approve more charter schools so he will have even more tax dollars for himself! $1.8 mill is a whole lot of text books! Mr. Mitchell cannot claim he deserves this because of 'lower overhead.' Public school superintendents 'manage' many more schools than Mr. Mitchell does and none of them earn that much money. North Carolina doesn't even pay it's governor that much money.

How dare the NCGA show such gross disrespect for our tax dollars. Republicans can never again claim to be the party of fiscal restraint. I call on NCGA to restore full and proper funding to our traditional public schools. If you want charters so badly, give them a dedicated revenue stream. Then make all their financial reports, test scores and minutes of all management meetings easily available on one publicly assessable website. When you come back in May, you damn well better fix this. And make sure it's not happening in other charters as well.


From the Star News article

From the Star News article above, on the USDA investigation:

"According to information Brunswick County Schools received, the basis of the alleged investigation was that Charter Day School ... used improper means to encourage homeschooled and private school students to enroll during the first few days of school to increase the average daily membership," Pruden wrote. That enrollment number is used to determine state funding levels.

The state gives charter schools their funds once a year. If a student leaves a charter and returns to the traditional public school, there is no pro-rated return of those funds, they remain with the charter. At one point in time, CHCCS would only allocate their funds to a charter school on a month by month basis--if a student returned, they at least had local monies for that student. I'll check and see if they still do that.

A potential implication of the investigation could be that there is financial malfeasance going on, potentially kickbacks. Are the home schooled and private schooled students actually attending classes at Mr. Mitchell's charter school??

Conflicts of interest

This whole charter schools issue should be looked into by the justice department. But, then, if it is, who will be in charge of the investigation and who will make the ultimate decision about guilt/innocence in this? This is not a republican or democratic oddity. "Politics" seems to have taken over our "right & wrong" culture in America. Just see what's happening with regard to our national "investigations" today.

Granted, this is a "biased" site, but does have interesting perspective. How can we come up with an independent investigation today? It's a tough question, isn't it?

Education at charter schools

Reports keep coming out from other states on how charter schools are teaching religious dogma and misinforming students about science - the latest example is an investigation in Texas.

Just what are students learning in NC's charter schools?