Amy Frogge was elected twice to the Nashville Metro school board. She is a lawyer, a public school parent, and executive director of Pastors for Tennessee Children.

As a board member, Amy quickly learned about the big money behind charter schools, especially when she was outspent 5-1 when she ran for office. Tennessee received a grant of $500 million from Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top competition and spent $100 on its “Achievement School District.” The ASD gathered the state’s lowest scoring schools into a new district and handed them over to charter operators. The leader of the ASD promised that within five years, the schools at the bottom would be in the top quarter of schools across the state. The ASD was a complete failure. None of the lowest performing schools reached that goal and remained at the bottom.

Amy Frogge posted the following thread on Twitter about the charter scandals in Tennessee.

Tennessee is considering opening 100 new charter schools, removing ALL local control of charter approvals, and giving charter schools free access to public school buildings. Last week, I shared charters’ dismal performance rates. Now let’s consider 10 horror stories:

1. Memphis Academy of Health Sciences closed after 3 leaders were indicted for stealing $400k for personal use- for Vegas trips, a hot tub, NBA tickets, auto repair, etc. 750 students were displaced.

2. The Executive Director of Legacy Leadership Academy was charged w/2 counts of theft and 3 counts of forgery after the comptroller found she inflated amounts on phony invoices to steal $4595 from the school.

3. New Vision Academy in Nashville shut down after state and federal investigation into financial irregularities and failure to comply with federal laws re: EL students and special needs students. Its leaders- a husband/wife team- earned $563k per year to oversee a school serving only 150 students. New Vision also violated the fire code by cramming too many kids into classrooms.

4. Knowledge Academies in Nashville failed to pay teachers, used uncertified teachers, lost hundreds of thousands in an online phishing scheme, changed grades and transcripts, understaffed the school, forced poor kids to buy expensive uniforms, failed to properly serve. special needs and EL students, ran for-profit businesses out of the school, posted terrible academic results, and more. After $ went missing, its CEO/founder disappeared. Nashville shut it down and THE STATE FORCED IT BACK OPEN. It’s now operating w/a $7.9 million deficit.

5. Two KIPP charter schools in Memphis abruptly closed without notice or community discussion, displacing about 650 students.

6. Gateway University Charter School in Memphis shut down after it falsified grades, used uncertified teachers, gave credits for a geometry class that didn’t exist, and pulled children out of class to clean school bathrooms, classrooms, and hallways. (!)

7. Southwest Early Charter School in Memphis closed after using uncertified teachers, failing to serve special needs students, losing its partnership with a community college and having “no institutional control,”according to the district.

8. Rocketship in Nashville forced open a brand new ASD school, even though its school was in the bottom 3% of schools statewide. (The ASD is supposed to bring up low-performing schools, not open new ones.) This new school closed after only one month. Rocketship, based in CA, is amassing millions in TN tax dollars through substantial management fees, facilities fees and “growth” fees. It also accessed a nearly $8 million tax-free bond for facilities through a back room deal.

9. Drexel Preparatory Academy in Nashville closed after using unlicensed teachers, a carbon monoxide leak that impacted students, and ongoing poor performance.

10. Boys Preparatory Academy in Nashville shut down after only 2 years after district officials found flaws in its special education services, manipulation of enrollment data and “other troubling patterns.” – And this is just a sampling. THERE’S MORE.

Charter schools are unregulated, and there is essentially zero oversight into their use of public tax dollars. Meanwhile, only 5 TN charter schools (out of over 100) has a success rate over 20%, according to the state Report Card.

Wake up, Tennessee! It’s a scam.

Ask our senators to vote no on SB2168. Please contact: Sen. Akbari @SenAkbari; Sen. Mike Bell; Sen. Rusty Crowe @RustyCroweTN; Sen. Farrell Haile; Sen. Joey Hensley @joey_senator; Sen. Brian Kelsey @BrianKelsey; Sen. Jon Lundberg; Sen. Bill Powers; Sen. Dawn White @VoteDawn @MarkWhiteTN

BONUS: A friend reminded me of perhaps the most egregious charter scandal in Nashville- Nashville Global Academy. It was poorly planned from the start and delivered students home after midnight on the first day of school. Then it forgot a student on a bus, leaving the child on the bus parked offsite all day. An investigation of the school revealed poor communication, a non-workable transportation plan, inadequate board oversight, poor administration of exceptional education, failure to meet accepted standards of fiscal management & accounting practices, failure to administer required state assessments, failure to pay teachers, etc. The school misappropriated funds to the tune of $149k and failed to pay food services ($35k), gas charges ($14k), bus leases (over $23k) and employee benefits ($200k). It also failed to reconcile Charter Startup Program Grant funds totaling $81k. It collapsed nearly $500k in debt, leaving the district, teachers and vendors holding the bag. Guess who paid? Us- the taxpayers (not once, but twice).

My comment: Despite this long record of failure and fraud, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Legislature want more charter schools! Gov. Lee has invited conservative Hillsdale College of Michigan to open 50-100 Christian-themed charters. Who knew that Republicans despise local control? Why would they want to outsource Tennessee public education to a Michigan college?