The founders of Ivy Academia in the San Fernando Valley in California were convicted of embezzlement and a variety of other charges stemming from their use of $200,000 in school funds for personal expenses.

From the LA Times:

“”This message is going to resonate throughout the charter school community,” said prosecutor Sandi Roth. “You can’t spend the charter school funds for anything you want. It has to be money spent on the kids and the schools.””

And this:

“”The prosecution seeks to undermine the cornerstone of what makes charter schools successful — their freedom from the rules binding traditional district schools,” said attorney Anne A. Lee, in a brief on behalf of the California Charter Schools Assn.”

Recently, the American Indian Public Charter schools in Oakland lost their charter after an audit revealed that $3.8 million of school funding was directed to businesses owned by the school leader and his wife.

The continuing scandals at charter schools is indicative of the near-complete absence of supervision of the state’s more than 1,000 charter schools.

The state–which has more charters than any other state–and the Los Angeles school district, which has the largest number of charters of any district, should develop a strategy to establish accountability and transparency for these unregulated schools. The reason for the huge number of charters? Former Governor Schwarzenegger appointed a state board dominated by charter advocates, even though less than 5% of the public students in the state attended charters.

Plus, big money in California–starting with Eli Broad–invests heavily in charters.

Without oversight of expenditures, a charter is a license to get public money and do with it whatever you want. You won’t get caught unless someone squeals, because no one at the State Education Department or the local school district is paying attention. No one is watching.

And here is an interesting sidenote: the teachers at the charter school voted in February to form a union and affiliate with the UTLA.