A new report from the California-based nonpartisan group “In the Public Interest” documents systemic fraud and waste in California’s charter schools

Public funding of California’s charter schools now tops $6 billion annually. ITPH finds that, despite this substantial investment, governments at all levels remain unable to proactively monitor the private groups that operate charter schools for fraud and waste.

In the report, Fraud and waste in California’s charter schools, In the Public Interest reveals that total alleged and confirmed fraud and waste in California’s charter schools has reached over $149 million. Yet this is likely only the tip of the iceberg, as the state lacks the oversight necessary to proactively identify fraud and waste.

The report highlights several instances of fraud and waste, such as:

The entrenched culture of self-dealing at the Bay Area’s Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, whose CEO misappropriated tax-exempt public bonds totaling over $67 million.

The founder of Celerity Education Group who allegedly used public funding for personal expenses, including nearly $1,700 on meals at restaurants in one month in 2013 alone.

The recent spectacle at Partnerships to Uplift Communities, in which cofounder and former director—and current Los Angeles school board member—Ref Rodriguez, allegedly authorized $285,000 in payments to nonprofit organizations he oversaw during his tenure.

Fraud and waste in California’s charter schools also includes an analysis of flaws in existing oversight, recommendations for reform, and an appendix of instances of fraud and abuse from 1997 through 2017.

In the Public Interest is a nonprofit research and policy center committed to promoting the values, vision, and agenda for the common good and democratic control of public goods and services.