When will Florida wake up and stop wasting money and harming young people’s lives?
From the Sun Sentinel:
But more than a thousand pages of public records obtained by the Sun Sentinel raise questions about the private company’s management of its six charter high schools, including five in South Florida, which are publicly funded but independently operated.
Many of the company’s schools have been investigated and asked to return public dollars. Three have closed. Local, state or federal officials have flagged academic or other problems at Mavericks schools, including:
• Overcharging taxpayers $2 million by overstating attendance and hours taught. The involved schools have appealed the findings.
• Submitting questionable low-income school meal applications to improperly collect $350,000 in state dollars at two now-closed Pinellas County schools.
• Frequent academic errors that include skipping state tests for special-needs students, failing to provide textbooks and using outdated materials.
The schools are overseen by volunteer governing boards, which pay the West Palm Beach-based company to manage the schools’ academics, finances and operations.
Administrators defended the schools, despite the financial issues and low grades.
Mavericks schools have been repeatedly cited for flawed enrollment and attendance numbers, which Florida uses to determine how much public money charter schools get.
The Miami-Dade school district counted no more than 200 students during four visits to the Homestead school in February 2011. Yet the school had reported a 400-student count and 100-percent attendance on those days, the district found.
A Broward school district official discussed a similar discrepancy in a June 2012 email to district staff members. Broward school district officials accused the Fort Lauderdale school of inflating attendance numbers, according to the email.
An audit released by the Palm Beach County school district in 2013 found 300 discrepancies between the attendance records logged by teachers and those reported to the school district, and no evidence that 14 students enrolled by the Palm Springs school were actually taking classes, the report states. The school was forced to return $158,815…..
Jim Pegg, who oversees charter schools for Palm Beach County school district, “said problems with Mavericks in Education have frustrated district officials. State charter-school laws do not address the performance of management companies.
“The statute doesn’t give any kind of authority to hold those management companies accountable; we can only hold the schools accountable,” Pegg said. “We need to be able to have some authority with [management companies]. They are the ones taking the tax dollars.”
From Diane Ravitch: Mavericks and the many other for-profit management companies flooding Florida are an integral part of former Governor Jeb Bush’s “Florida miracle.” The schools can be accountable, but the management company that gets paid cannot be held accountable.