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About Arizonans for Charter School Accountability:
Here is a little background on the brief history of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability.
I retired in June after over 30 years in education and 23 years as a school principal. One day I happened to find my research on charter school financing that was to be my dissertation for a PhD I never completed. I did a little research into one of the charter school companies I was studying and realized there were still major concerns about the financial accountability of charter schools in Arizona. I noticed that the charter organization was having a board meeting on September 10th so I decided to attend.
I started this organization largely because of an incident that occurred when I attended the board meeting. The Board President demanded to know my name – I repeated over and over that I was a member of the public and did not have to give my name. At the end of the meeting, a senior member of the company that manages the charter schools demanded my name in the hallway outside the meeting room. I refused and she pulled out her phone and took my picture saying “I’m taking your picture in case there are problems in the future”. I was completely shocked at this display of arrogance.
Arizonans for Charter School Accountability was born the next day. I filed a complaint with the Attorney General on behalf of ACSA regarding the violations of Arizona’s open meeting law. The AG’s office investigated the charter organization and they were forced to revise their website at each school and provide documents they had neglected to post in the past. The investigation is ongoing. Apparently, from the Board agenda for the October 15, 2014, they are being subjected to a “document audit” by the Attorney General’s office.
The charter organization finally posted their 2015 budget that should have been posted in July. It was a mess – there were significant areas that had they simply left blank. I found that they submitted this budget to the Arizona Department of Education and it was accepted, apparently without examining it. I made official complaints to the Arizona State Board of Charter Schools against the charter organization for filing incomplete budgets. I registered a complaint to the Auditor General’s office because ADE was negligent in accepting the budgets.
This week, on October 15, 2014, the charter organization submitted their Annual Financial Report for 2014 to ADE as is required by law. It too was full of omissions. Looking back over the last five years, all of their annual financial reports were incomplete. Today I filed additional complaints with the Charter School Board and the Auditor General’s office.
The budget and the annual financial report are literally the only documents charters have to submit to the State, since they can request waivers from compliance from both financial regulations and procurement rules. The State of Arizona apparently doesn’t even read these documents.
Charter schools waste millions of education dollars every year, at the expense of public schools and the children of Arizona. Corporate charter schools act with impunity because no one examines their actions.
I now have a passion that will fill my retirement. The Arizonans for Charter School Accountability will continue to examine the financial dealings of this charter organization and others. We will file complaint after complaint. We will go to the media to expose corrupt organizations. We will fight to change the law so that charter schools have financial accountability to the taxpayers of Arizona.
Thank you for taking an interest in this endeavor. Jim Hall