Audit: U.S. oversight of charter school funding is lax

In California, which has received nearly $182 million in federal charter grants from 2008 to 2011, auditors found “significant weaknesses” in charter oversight, such as school reviewers being unqualified to conduct on-site school visits. One reviewer felt “awkward” conducting site visits because of a lack of knowledge and experience, the report said.

California Department of Education spokeswoman Tina Jung said officials in Sacramento had just received the report and were reviewing it, but she acknowledged that the department had been aware of oversight deficiencies.

“Even before this review, we recognized the need to build our monitoring capacity, and that effort has already begun,” she said.

In Florida, state officials had no records of which schools received federal grant money, nor which schools received on-site monitoring and audits. Florida received $67.6 million.

Florida Education Department spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said the agency disagreed with the findings. She said in an eMail that the state has “an excellent grant management and records system to ensure that the state’s charter schools comply with all aspects of the grant requirements,” but the documentation was not in a format the inspector general would have liked.

“To enhance our current capabilities with regard to oversight of federal funds, Florida has created a new web-based system to more closely monitor charter school grant expenditures,” Etters said.

In Arizona, which received about $26 million, reviewers lacked a monitoring checklist and thus collected inconsistent data when they visited schools.

For more news and opinion about school reform, see:

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