I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Virtual Disaster in PA

FBI agents on Thursday raided the office of Pennsylvania Charter Cyber School founder Nick Trombetta, who is suspected of misusing Pennsylvania tax dollars to fund his out-of-state ventures, KDKA News reports.
The FBI raided the administrative offices of PA Cyber and other ventures founded by Trombetta, including the Avanti Management Group -- a for-profit consultant firm based in Ohio.
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, founded in 2000, enrolled more than 11,300 students in the 2011-12 academic year and has an annual budget of more than $100 million. Critics say the $10,000 the school receives for each child far exceeds the cost of educating a student online, and that the excess money has gone to other Trombetta ventures such as the National Network of Digital Schools and the Lincoln Interactive, which develops and markets online curriculum.
These ventures have spawned cyber schools nationwide, and a federal investigation is now underway to determine if Trombetta personally profited.
Even a wingnut like Gov. Tom Corbett agrees that Pennsylvania has to put the brakes on cyber schools. Of course, when eight out of 12 cybers in the state don't even make Adequate Yearly Progress, it's kind of hard to justify continuing to shovel money at them - no matter how many ads they buy with taxpayer funds to sell themselves.

But, hey, here in Jersey, we're plowing right ahead! I mean, who are the NJDOE or the state BOE or the Legislature to question industry shills who tell us to ignore these schools' records of failure? How dare stakeholders like the NJEA and the NJ School Boards Association - normally not the best of buds - come together to block this "progress"!

So ignore the facts, ignore the record, ignore the stories of corruption, ignore what other states are doing. After all: it's all for the kids.

Dave, I'm doing it all for the kids...

ADDING: Oh dear lord, you have got to be kidding me:
A former board president and founder of a Northwest Philadelphia charter school was sentenced in federal court today to 2 years in prison for stealing $522,000 in taxpayer money to prop up a restaurant, a health-food store, and a private school he controlled, and for other business and personal expenses.
In April, shortly before he was scheduled to go to trial, Hugh C. Clark, pleaded guilty to all 28 criminal counts related to his role in a scheme to drain funds from the New Media Technology Charter School.
Clark was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2011 - nearly two years after The Inquirer reported allegations of fiscal mismanagement and conflicts of interest at New Media.
The sentencing memorandum from the U.S. Attorney's office described Clark as an Ivy League lawyer "who stole funds intended for the public school children of Philadelphia. No amount of money was too large or too small for defendant Clark to steal."

And as if that's not enough:
Rather than fight the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the beleaguered Frontier Virtual Charter High School will surrender its operating charter.
The cyber charter school's board made the decision during an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon, according to Brian H. Leinhauser, a lawyer who represents the school.
He said Frontier would release a statement Friday outlining its reasons.
Frontier, which has administrative offices at 3020 Market St., has been plagued with financial and management problems since it was launched last fall.
By law, the state Education Department is responsible for overseeing cyber charter schools, which provide online instruction to students statewide in their homes.
Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis filed documents Monday saying he intended to yank the school's charter for failing to deliver education it promised students, violating the state charter-school law, spending taxpayer money on nonschool expenses, and failing to maintain the finances necessary to provide services to students.
It's a freaking epidemic!

1 comment:

Deb said...

I am just fearful this epidemic is contagious and Cerf is catching it here in NJ.....thanks Duke. As usual you are telling us what we need to know so we can be ready to fight! Whatever Cerf releases for final charters next week, the fight is just beginning.