The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse,” was released jointly on April 27 by the nonprofit organizations Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy.
It follows a similar report released a year ago by the same groups that detailed $136 million in fraud and waste and mismanagement in 15 of the 42 states that operate charter schools. The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report.
Despite the tremendous ongoing investment of public dollars to charter schools, the report reveals that government at all levels has failed to implement systems that proactively monitor charter schools for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.
While charter schools are subject to significant reporting requirements by various public offices (including federal monitors, chartering entities, county superintendents, and state controllers and auditors), very few public offices regularly monitor for fraud.
The number of instances of serious fraud uncovered by whistleblowers, reporters, and investigations suggests that the fraud problem extends well beyond the cases we know about.
According to standard forensic auditing methodologies, the deficiencies in charter oversight throughout the country suggest that federal, state, and local governments stand to lose more than $1.4 billion in 2015.
It appears to Miss Fortune that the vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will continue to go undetected because the federal government, the states, charter authorizers and local charter boards lack the guts to detect the fraud—or they're co-conspirators and being paid off (in one form or another) to keep quiet.
(NOTE: The Ingersoll portion of the report contains a couple minor typos, and Miss Fortune has already alerted the nonprofit organizations responsible for the report. The errors should be corrected shortly.