Pennsylvania Cyber-Charter Schools are hard to regulate and thus may easily break or bend the law to benefit a few individuals who control the purses of the school.
Published in the Fall 2013 issue of Urban Lawyer, “Keep Following the Money: Financial Accountability and Governance of Cyber Charter Schools” was written by Temple law professor, Susan DeJarnatt, in which she states:
“There is ample disclosure in the form of annual reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, informational tax returns to the IRS, and occasional audits by the Auditor General”.
Although DeJarnatt recommended that more resources be allocated to oversee these results, the following is true:
- In the past 10 years, four Cyber-Charter Schools have closed: Einstein, PA Distance Learning and Frontier.
- Cyber-Charter Schools are required to comply with dozens of audits and reports that are not required of traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
- In the past three years, two former Cyber Charter CEO’s have been indicted for fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty.
- In one such case, the CEO’s co-defendants were acquitted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in connection with an alleged cover-up of the frauds. (Dec. 19, 2013).
- Also, concerning said CEO, Martha Woodall states on Philly.com: “After seven days of deliberations, jurors in the federal fraud trial of charter school founder Dorothy June Brown acquitted the veteran educator on six counts late Thursday and said they were here hopelessly deadlocked on the remaining 54.” Despite these court proceedings, neither of their former schools are being cited for illegal or unethical behavior at this time. Both of these CEO’s were indicted after leaving their respective schools.
There is sufficient oversight and political pressures in place to oversee Cyber-Charter Schools and to discover fraud and abuse should it exist. The government intends to add additional layers of bureaucracy to oversee all Charter and Cyber-Charter Schools and to cut funding for all Charter and Cyber-Charter Schools.
MYTH / TRUTH prepared by:
Dr. James Hanak, CEO, PA Leadership (Cyber) Charter School