Jim Hall of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability has a mission. He insists that charter schools should be accountable to taxpayers for the public money they receive. In Arizona, the charter laws are written to ensure that charter schools seldom are accountable.

He produced this example as the poster charter for total non-transparency and non-accountability.

A member of the legislature, Representative Eddie Farnsworth, owns a chain of charter schools. It has a budget of $18 Million. He is the only member of the board. State law says that “all legal actions of a public body must be made in a meeting open to the public.” State law says that such meetings must be open to the public. “All meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings. All legal action of public bodies shall occur during a public meeting.”

Every school district, charter school, public agency, and commission must abide by these laws.

But not Rep. Farnsworth’s Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools.

The state Attorney General confirms that charter schools owned by Representative Eddie Farnsworth are exempt from all Arizona Open Meeting Laws.

Hall writes:

“The four Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools in the East Valley are owned solely by Republican Representative Eddie Farnsworth as a for-profit company. Rep. Farnsworth has appointed himself the only board member of the school’s governing board and, as the result of a technicality in Arizona law, does not have to follow Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws. Rep. Farnsworth has free rein to conduct all matters pertaining to the expenditure of over $18 million in public money every year in complete secrecy – there are no public meetings at Benjamin Franklin and there can be no Open Meeting Law requests for information.”

Jim Hall’s ACSA filed a complaint in March 2017 against the four Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools for failing to provide information about the location and notice of board meetings on their website as required by law. As of October 25, 2017, the school websites are still out of compliance with Open Meeting Laws.

Rep. Farnsworth says that he is exempt from the laws because he is the sole member of the governing board. He alone controls $18 Million and is not obliged to hold public meetings.

Jim Hall, founder of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability, noted: “As a member of the Arizona Legislature, you would hope Rep. Farnsworth would set an example for assuring charter schools are spending tax dollars in a transparent manner. Instead, Rep. Farnsworth participates in the worst of practices of deception and secrecy that undermine the credibility of “public” charter schools. There is nothing “public” about Rep. Farnsworth’s charter schools.”

Contact Jim Hall

Arizonans for Charter School Accountability