Who could have imagined?
On Monday's Fresh Air, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Martha Woodall details her ongoing investigation into Philadelphia's charter school system, where 19 of the 74 charter schools operating in the city are under investigation for fraud, financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest.
Corruption And Fraud
At one school, the Philadelphia Academy Charter School, parents raised concerns in 2008 after school administrators told them that there was no money available for special education students.
"The school kept saying 'We don't have money [for these students],' " Woodall tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "However, there was money being spent on all kinds of other issues. [When parents] raised questions at the Board of Trustees meetings, [they] were basically told, 'We don't want you asking questions.' "
Ultimately, both the founding CEO of Philadelphia Academy Charter School and his successor were charged with stealing almost $1 million from the school's coffers, including money students had collected for a Toys for Tots campaign. The two men — one of whom had only a high school education — also allegedly engaged in questionable real estate deals. As a result, the high school paid rent money for its facilities directly to them.
"They charged really high rental rates for the school to use the building and then they accumulated money through the higher rates," she says. "They were using taxpayer money that was supposed to go to the school for other purposes."
In addition, both the school's founding CEO and his successor had relatives on the school's payroll. The founding CEO's wife was the head of the board of trustees.But, see, we don't need tenure, because there are laws that prevent cronies from getting teaching jobs. I mean, laws other than tenure. Like here. Except they didn't work here. But they will. Trust us...
I'm shocked! Shocked to find corruption at a politically connected charter school!