Thursday, May 5, 2016

ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals | PR Watch

ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals | PR Watch:

ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals -

Today the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is filing its appeal from a claim by the U.S. Department of Education that it has no records about closed or never-opened charter schools referenced in its "Commitment to Transparency" press release.
On December 23, ED publicly issued a statement called "A Commitment to Transparency: Learning More about the Charter School Program."
That statement noted that it had funded more than 2,600 charter schools that were "operational" in the last full school year and that it had funded 430 charters that had "subsequently closed," along with 699 "prospective schools."
However, ED released data for only the operational charters schools and did not list the 1,129 charters that either closed or had not yet opened since 2006.
So, in January, CMD requested records about those other charters.  
In April, ED denied CMD's request saying it had searched and found no records about the closed or not-opened charters that had received federal taxpayer moneys, despite the specific numbers it used in its release.
CMD's appeal notes that:
It strains credulity and common sense that, despite spending billions in taxpayer dollars on charters and putting out this press release—among several—on the accomplishments of the Charter Schools Program, the Department claims to have no databases, no data analyses, and no internal communications about the program mentioned in its press release and charters that received funds but closed or never opened, nor any external communications with charter school grant recipients about the success or failure of those charters.
The Department’s article states that, “CSP planning and startup capital facilitated the creation of over 2,600 charter schools that were operational as of SY 2013-14; approximately 430 charter schools that served students but subsequently closed by SY 2013-14; and approximately 699 “prospective schools.” Yet the Department claims that it was unable to locate any lists of what schools those are, how much federal funding they received, or any correspondence or other records relating to that data.
Similarly, the Department claims that is has no records relating to an assessment of the suitability or eligibility for financial support of “prospective schools” and no correspondence regarding charter schools that closed or never opened.
Accordingly, the search conducted by the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation & Improvement for records responsive to our requests must have been inadequate.
As CMD was first to document last year, the federal government has spent more than $3.7 billion in taxpayer dollars
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