In a remarkable turn of events, the federal Office of Inspector General issued a warning that charter schools posed a risk to the Department of Education’s goals.
The report was released just days after the US Department of Education released $245 million to increase the number of unregulated charter schools.
US News reports:
“Charter schools and their management organizations pose a potential risk to federal funds even as they threaten to fall short of meeting the goals of an array of programs the Department of Education oversees, a new audit from the Office of Inspector General found.
“Investigators assessed the risk that charter schools receiving federal funds, specifically the schools’ relationships with the organizations that oversee them, posed to the objectives of department programs, including the federal K-12 law, special education, school turnaround efforts and others. The audit period covered July 2011 through March 2013 and assessed 33 charter schools in six states.
“Specifically, the report found instances of financial risk, including waste, fraud and abuse, lack of accountability over federal funds and lack of assurances that the schools were implementing federal programs in accordance with federal requirements at 22 of the 33 schools they looked at, all of which were run by management organizations.
“We determined that charter school relationships with [charter management organizations] posed a significant risk to department program objectives,” the report reads. The investigators noted, however, that because it was not a statistical sample, the findings can’t necessarily be projected to the entire sector of charter schools and their management organizations.
“Moreover, the inspector general’s report found that the Education Department did not have effective internal controls to monitor, evaluate and mitigate those risks, nor did it ensure that state departments of education were overseeing charter schools and their management organizations.”