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Pa. auditor general faults Education Department’s charter oversight

Photo: Emma Lee/NewsWorks Photo, file)

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale intends to hold a series of public meetings in February and March at locations across the state to "explore ways to improve accountability, effectiveness and transparency of charter schools."

DePasquale, who took office in January 2013, said his office audited more than 300 school entities during the first year of his tenure.

In a radio interview (listen above), DePasquale argued that charters have been able to get away with misusing public funds largely because the state Department of Education has lacked oversight and been unwilling to hold "bad actors" accountable.

As a leading example, he described how some charter operators abuse the system through "improper lease reimbursements."

Some charter operators put the deed of a building they own in the name of a separate foundation, DePasquale explained. Then they name themselves the heads of said foundation, and, in a sense, lease the building to themselves.

Once they "pay the rent," he said, they turn around and ask the state for a reimbursement.

"We started looking at the deed[s] and saw that the names were the exact same names that were on the charter school[s]," he said.

"Charter operators are, in some instances, getting reimbursed for a building that they already basically own, and they’re getting reimbursed by state tax dollars. That’s ridiculous," he said.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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