Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Education Department slammed for charter school oversight — by its own watchdog office - The Washington Post

Education Department slammed for charter school oversight — by its own watchdog office - The Washington Post:

Education Department slammed for charter school oversight — by its own watchdog office


The Education Department has for more than 10 years poured in excess of $3 billion into the creation and operation of charter schools, but according to a new audit by the agency’s own inspector general’s office, it has failed in some cases to provide adequate oversight and as a result has put its own grants at risk.
The audit, titled, “Nationwide Assessment of Charter and Education Management Organizations” and conducted by the department’s inspector general (see below), looked at the relationship that several dozen charter schools have had with their own charter management organizations (CMOs). It found, among other things that there were “internal control weaknesses” related to the schools’ relationships to their CMOs that were so severe that the department’s own program objectives were at “significant risk.” And it says:
The Department’s internal controls were insufficient to mitigate the significant financial, lack of accountability and performance risks that charter school relationships with CMOs pose to Department program objectives.
The newly released report comes just as the department announced $245 million in new grantsto state educational agencies and CMOs under its Charter Schools Program, which funds the creation and expansion of charters around the country. The Charter Schools Program has invested more than $3 billion into these schools since 1995, helping more than 2,500 charter schools open.  The Education Department’s announcement of the new grants says:
“Through the CSP, the Department is committed to supporting the continued growth of excellent public charter schools that are closing equity gaps and improving student outcomes, and these schools’ community engagement and public accountability.”
According to the audit, however, the department didn’t do enough to ensure that some of the charter schools it is funding have been able to reach the stated goals. It says in part:
We determined that charter school relationships with CMOs posed a significant risk to Department program objectives. Specifically, we found that 22 of the 33 charter schools in our review had 36 examples of internal control weaknesses related to the charter schools’ relationships with their CMOs (concerning conflicts of interest, related-party transactions, and insufficient segregation of duties)….
We concluded that these examples of internal control weaknesses represent the Education Department slammed for charter school oversight — by its own watchdog office - The Washington Post:




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