A link from StateImpact‘s John O’Connor finds a Fort Myers News-Press story which details that a Lee County charter school provided grossly inaccurate numbers of students enrolled in OJT. Writes reporter Ashley A. Smith:
An audit of Coronado High School found there was no documentation to show 465 students participated in an on-the-job course. The school could provide documentation of 13 students in the course. The audit at North Nicholas High revealed 102 of 372 students were incorrectly reported.
The management company and school district are awaiting a final report from DOE about the total amount owed, but both schools could pay a total maximum of about $500,000. However, the school district estimates North Nicholas owes $204,236 and Coronado owes $267,543, based on per-student funding from 2011.
Its not clear what led to the miscalculation in the first place. Did the management company cut corners with its own staffing and just fail to document necessary paperwork? Or did they enroll a bunch of kids in the OJT class – which doesn’t require daily interaction with a certified teacher – to pad their numbers?
While Smith’s story appears to indicate the audit was initiated and reported by the charter school management company, the episode represents another example that supports the conclusions I made in this Orlando Sentinel piece in June. Lee County’s superintendent agrees:
Lee County Superintendent Joseph Burke said he would like to see the district have more oversight of charter schools because these kinds of circumstances with the finances of charter schools have been cropping up in Lee and other counties .
“It’s something that bears watching,” Burke said.
Districts have a responsibility to work with charter schools, their management companies and leadership on rules and regulations, Burke said, noting he also understands there is an expectation of keeping districts and charters separate.
“But it would be prudent of school districts to do that more often and these two charter schools are an example of that,” Burke said. “They’re not the only ones around the state of Florida where these kinds of problems occurred.”
There’s a clear failure of the system tasked with oversight of state charter schools and that of the taxpayer. But this is what Florida legislators wanted. So did Governor Rick Scott as evidenced of the presence of three charter school executives on his education transition team. He even appointed one of those executive’s, Jacksonville KIPP board exec Gary Chartrand, to a seat on the State Board of Education. And another blatant attempt at charter school takeover by fiat that both Scott and Jeb Bush advocates looms in the next legislative session. Bush told StateImpact in May that “parent trigger would be back.”