The Federal GAO released a report sharply criticizing the D.C. voucher program.

According to Stephanie Simon in

“The voucher program in Washington D.C. is riddled with failings and does not maintain adequate controls to ensure that participating private schools are physically safe or academically accredited, according to an investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office.”

The GAO recommended closer monitoring of the voucher program by Secretary Arne Duncan.

“The GAO report, which was completed earlier this fall but released only today, found that the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation gave “incomplete and untimely information about participating schools” to low-income families using the vouchers to enroll in private schools. The directory of participating schools, which the Trust publishes, “lacks key information about tuition, fees, and accreditation,” so parents “cannot make fully informed school choices,” investigators wrote.

“The report also found an incomplete vetting of participating schools, so that federal scholarship dollars might be going to pay for “students to attend schools that do not meet standards required by law.” It noted that the Trust was failing to conduct mandatory health, safety and building inspections of the schools. It found flaws in the lottery used to award the vouchers to students. And it found that the Trust consistently failed to file financial reports on time….

“The Education Department responded with an eight-page letter.” it said it takes the issues raised by the report “very seriously”….

According to Simon, “the Trust is working on a system to verify that teachers of core academic subjects in the private schools have bachelor’s degrees. The Trust is also moving to require evidence of financial stability and sound fiscal practices before a private school is cleared to accept federal dollars through the voucher program.”