A reader writes:

“How do you like this for accountability???
Lack of regulations, accountability and transparency invites charter school fraud

“Pet care, alcohol, vacations and other personal purchases were charged to taxpayers via Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy charter school, according to a 2013 state audit. The school misspent $520,000 in public money. Two former officials from the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy are awaiting trial in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas for theft in office and tampering with public records. Based on the states past record of recovering misspent funds by charter schools, the school districts from which these funds were extracted will not receive reimbursement

“In the now-closed Lion of Judah charter school fiasco, $1.2 million in public funds were lost but the court agreed to a settlement of $195,000 in restitution from the charter school operator. It is interesting that the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge approved a payback of less than 20% of the funds misspent and indicated that a prison sentence was not proper because the state didn’t properly anticipate the mistakes that could be made when citizens tried to run charter schools. It appears that the charter school operator received a lenient sentence for the fraud committed due to the judge’s view that the charter school law in Ohio is defective.

“On February 25, the State Auditor issued a finding for recovery in the amount of $507,206 against a Cleveland businessman who had unlawful interests in public contracts awarded to the now-closed Greater Heights Academy. Other persons involved in this charter school operation have been charged with a conspiracy to defraud the charter school of over $400,000.

“In a news release regarding the Greater Heights Academy charter school case, the State Auditor said, “…I’ll never understand what motivates people to steal from children.” An equally puzzling incomprehension is what motivates state officials to enact and continue to support charter school laws that provide for a license to steal.

“When will lawmakers regulate charter schools in ways to stop the fraud on the public and the low quality education provided to charter school students? Not until the public becomes outraged and demands that state officials refuse campaign contributions from charter school operators and advocates and begin to regulate charter schools.

“But hey, you know they are all in it for the kids. Aren’t you just wowed by the “innovation”? I’m sure people in NYC would love to know what is happening in the charters that they pay for.”

And what happens when the State Comptroller is legally barred from auditing charter schools, as in Néw York, because charter schools are not “a unit of government.” That means they get public money but they are not public schools and may not be audited by public authorities.