Charter school independence must come with accountability

Jul 6, 2011 by

The charter schools movement has run into some particularly punishing headwinds in recent months — or, viewed from the more optimistic perspective, is facing an important crossroads in its develop­- ment.

Beyond the persistent struggle for adequate funds, which continues to intensify in the wake of the recession, the state’s 31 charter schools have come under a taint of suspicion because of an accountability record that can only be called spotty. The overseers of these schools are now being called to hold charter administrators’ feet to the fire, lest the schools that are floundering undercut the educational accomplishments achieved at other charters.

There have been dispiriting developments, but stricter regulations and new appointees put in place as well, both of which could combine to refocus the system’s resources on its successes.

Here’s the down side: Problems with nepotism have surfaced, first at Myron B. Thompson Academy in Kakaako and more recently at Halau Lokahi Public Charter School in Kalihi.

Further, an independent audit of Halau Lokahi found internal financial controls lacking, payments to related parties, unrecorded liabilities and a sizeable debt. This isn’t the sort of situation that should be tolerated in an era of funding shortages.

Concern over such irregularities compounds the discomfort with uneven academic achievement at some schools. And still, the state has yet to close a single charter in more than 10 years. Since its founding in 2007, the Charter School Review Panel has revoke the charter of one school,



on the Big Island, about two years ago. But the revocation was overturned because the Board of Education had not yet adopted enabling rules.

But there are hopeful signs that a turnaround is possible. The review panel has done more frequent audits, bringing problems to light. And with the signing of Senate Bill 1174, the illumination of charter school operations may be brighter still.

via Charter school independence must come with accountability – Hawaii Editorials –

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