Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Corruption at Pennsylvania’s largest cyber-charter school as founder charged with funneling $8 million into private account | The Raw Story

Corruption at Pennsylvania’s largest cyber-charter school as founder charged with funneling $8 million into private account | The Raw Story:

Corruption at Pennsylvania’s largest cyber-charter school as founder charged with funneling $8 million into private account

By Pando Daily
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 8:17 EDT



For the last decade, cyber charter schools have been springing up all over the country. Cyber schools give classes over the Internet to students in grades K-12, who get their education entirely online instead of in a brick-and-mortar location. Despite the lack of research into these schools’ educational quality, in recent years some states have removed limitations to their growth.
Pennsylvania is one such state pioneering cyber charter schools. As of the 2012-2013 school year, 16 of its public schools were cyber. Students could attend those programs free, subsidized by federal, state, and local tax revenue.
On Friday, the founder of Pennsylvania’s bigger charter school — PA Cyber — was charged with fraud, for funneling $8 million of the school’s funds into his personal companies and holdings. Nicholas Trombetta allegedly used the tax payer money to purchase a plane, houses for his mother and girlfriend, and a million dollar Florida condo.
The indictment raises questions about whether regulatory bodies need to monitor cyber schools more closely.
Youth cyber school programs are controversial in education. Proponents of cyber schools saythey encourage innovation and are helpful for students who might struggle in a brick-and-mortar school due to bullying, learning disabilities, or other issues. Critics argue that they’re bad for learning, because students are stuck behind a computer screen all day long without interacting face-to-face. Research has found that cyber school students consistently underperform. The University of Colorado Boulder’s National Education Policy Center saw a big gap in standardized testing benchmarks between students in virtual schools compared to traditional schools.
Critics have also pointed to the for-profit motive behind many cyber charter schools that distorts the educational purpose and leads to inflated costs. The PA Cyber controversy has brought this 


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