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Peter Greene reports on an audit in Ohio about phantom students in charter schools. Charters are paid by headcount, and some charters have seen the advantage of inflating their enrollment, although it is illegal.
On October 1, the auditors walked into The Academy for Urban Scholars Youngstown with a stated enrollment of ninety-five. Actual students that the auditors found in the building?
The explanation wasn’t exactly encouraging. Students had been sent home at 12:30 because they had spent the morning prepping for the state exam. So it’s not that the Academy was lying about students in school– they just weren’t actually teaching any.
A Youngstown tv station reported that the auditors made a follow-up visit in November. On that occasion, they found thirty-seven students in attendance.
Capital High School in Columbus claims 298 students. Auditors found 142 in the building.
Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition writes that charters have been inflating enrollments for years, without accountability or consequences, because the charter operators make campaign contributions.
State Auditor: Charter school head count much less than students reported for payment
Why are charter school operators and charter school sponsors not being prosecuted for collecting money on phantom students? A recent State Auditor’s report-Report on Community School Students Attendance Counts-documents that many charter schools are collecting funds for students they are not serving. These charter operators and their sponsors should be charged with dereliction of duty and fraud.
These spurious maneuvers have been ongoing. Nearly ten years ago, the Scripps Howard News Service conducted a head count in several Ohio charter schools. The Scripps report-Ghost Schools— revealed that absentee rates in charter schools were as high as 64 percent. The investigators that did the Scripps Howard News Service study sent the report to Ohio officials, including the Attorney General. They thought someone would be sent to prison for fraud, but state officials seemed to ignore the report.
The State Auditor found current student attendance compared to the number of students reported in July 2014 as low as zero percent. Other egregious rates of attendance found by the Auditor were 17%, 18%, 23%, 25%, 48% and 66%. This theft from taxpayers must stop.
The worst offenders in this scandal are among the largest political contributors in Ohio. Don’t expect any remedy to this corruption in charterland unless a grassroots outrage emerges.
Ohio E & A
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