Archives for category: Fraud

The advocacy group called Public Funds a Public Schools gathered a useful archive of research studies of vouchers.

The studies were conducted by nonpartisan academic and federal researchers.

The findings are broadly congruent.

Voucher schools are academically inferior to public schools.

Voucher schools divert funding from public schools, which enroll most children.

Voucher programs lack accountability.

The absence of oversight promotes fraud and corruption.

Voucher programs do not help students with disabilities.

Voucher schools are allowed to discriminate against certain groups of students and families.

Voucher programs exacerbate segregation.

Voucher programs don’t work, don’t improve education, and have multiple negative effects.

Robert Shepherd writes comments on the blog frequently, and he also writes his own blog. He is a recently retired teacher in Florida who spent decades as a writer, editor, and developer of curriculum and assessments in the education publishing industry.

Since he has often expresssed his views of the current occupant of the White House, I invited him to assemble a Trump glossary.

He did.

Some people respond to crises with focused, quiet intensity. Not our 73-year-old President in the orange clown makeup. He can’t stop tweeting and blabbering randomly and profusely. And what does he tweet and blab about? Well, he suggests holding events at his resorts, he attacks perceived enemies, and he praises himself. And then on Memorial Day, while others are laying a wreath on the grave of Uncle Javier who died in Vietnam, Trump accuses a journalist of murder and goes golfing.

This demonstrated lack of concern for others (for victims and survivors of natural disasters and war and disease, for example) shows that Donald Trump doesn’t give a microbe on a nit on a rat’s tushy about anything but Donald Trump. Obviously, he cares only about money (sorry, Evangelicals, his only God is Mammon) and about himself.

But hey, Trump’s a romantic figure, a man in love. This must be his appeal. And when he speaks, in his toddler English, about the love of his life, Donald Trump, you can be certain that he will use terms like “a winner,” “the greatest,” “the best,” and so on. He will tell you about his “great genes” and his uncle who was “a super genius [which is a lot better than an ordinary genius] at MIT.”

OK, over the years, I’ve had my disagreements with the man to whom I variously refer as Moscow’s Asset Governing America (MAGA); Don the Con; IQ 45; The Don, Cheeto “Little Fingers” Trumpbalone; Vlad’s Agent Orange; the Iota; our Child-Man in the Promised Land; our Vandal in Chief; Dog-Whistle Don; The Man with No Plan and the Tan in the Can; President Pinocchio; Trump on the Stump with His Chumps; Jabba the Trump; Don the Demented; King Con; Donnie DoLittle; the Stabul Jenius; Scrotus Potus; The Mornavirus trumpinski orangii; Ethelorange the Unready; our First Part-time President, now become, in his nonresponse to the pandemic, Donnie Death. However, I do agree with him that in descriptions of Trump, SUPERLATIVES ARE IN ORDER.

The British writer Nate White wisely observed, in a post that Diane Ravitch shared on her indispensable blog, that Donald Trump’s “faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws.” Trump is a one-person compendium of human vices and failings. In this respect, truly, HE HAS NO EQUAL. And so I offer here an ABECEDARIUM of adjectives, each of which demonstrably describes the occupant of the now Offal Office in the now Whiter House, the fellow who has shamed us before the world, made us a laughing stock, and led the now Repugnican Party in an unprecedented Limbo Dance (“how low, how low, how low can we go?).

Trump is. . . .

abhorrent, amoral, anti-democratic, arrogant, authoritarian, autocratic, avaricious, backward, base, benighted, bloated, blubbering, blundering, bogus, bombastic, boorish, bullying, bungling, cheap, childish, clownish, clueless, common, confused, conniving, corrupt, cowardly, crass, creepy, cretinous, criminal, crowing, crude, cruel, dangerous, delusional, demagogic, depraved, devious, dim, disgraceful, dishonest, disloyal, disreputable, dissembling, dog-whistling, doltish, dull, elitist, embarrassing, erratic, fascist, foolish, gauche, gluttonous, greedy, grudging, hate-filled, hateful, haughty, heedless, homophobic, humorless, hypocritical, idiotic, ignoble, ignominious, ignorant, immature, inarticulate, indolent, inept, inferior, insane, intemperate, irresponsible, kakistocratic, kleptocratic, laughable, loathsome, loud-mouthed, low-life, lying, mendacious, meretricious, monstrous, moronic, narcissistic, needy, oafish, odious, orange, outrageous, pampered, pandering, perverse, petty, predatory, puffed-up, racist, repulsive, rude, sanctimonious, semi-literate, senile, senseless, sexist, shady, shameless, sheltered, slimy, sluglike, sniveling, squeamish, stupid, swaggering, tacky, thick, thin-skinned, thuggish, toadying, transphobic, trashy, treasonous, twisted, ugly, unappealing, uncultured, uninformed, unprincipled, unread, unrefined, vain, venal, vicious, vile, and vulgar.

Aside from those peccadilloes (we all have our faults, don’t we?), I have no problem with the guy.

ProPublica dug up a shameful story, just one more for an era of shameful stories. I wrote previously that the Trump presidency will make Teapot Dome look like a tea party. For those of you who don’t know, Teapot Dome was taught in the textbooks as the prime example of political corruption.

The following is a textbook case of profiteering at the expense of vulnerable people.

A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.

The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.

What’s more, the masks Fuentes agreed to provide — Chinese-made KN95s — have come under intense scrutiny from U.S. regulators amid concerns that they offered inadequate protection.

TIME magazine has a depressing expose about the $160 billion in tax breaks that the CARES Act awards to the real estate industry, including the family business of Jared Kushner.

The CARES Act is the coronavirus relief package of $2 trillion intended to save mom-and-pop businesses and other small businesses at risk of failing due to the prolonged shutdown.

When Democrats realized that the real estate moguls had pulled a fast one, they wrote repeal legislation that has no chance of passing in the Senate.

TIME’s analysis of drafts of the bills and lobbying disclosures, along with interviews with half a dozen staffers and lobbyists, show that the provisions originated with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s office, which was working with other Republicans on the committee, and were lobbied for heavily by the real estate industry, including a prominent real estate trade group, of which Jared Kushner’s family’s company is a member…

Jared Kushner’s family’s company, Kushner Companies, is a member of NMHC’s advisory committee, according to the organization’s website. That membership appears to be the lowest level of membership and requires an annual fee of $5,000. The NMHC website also lists Avi Lebor, Kushner Companies’ director of acquisitions, as the contact for the company on the membership directory. Lebor was in prison with Kushner’s father and joined Kushner Companies after they were both released, according to Bloomberg. The Trump Organization, which will also benefit from the tax provisions, is not publicly listed as a member of NMHC.

War profiteers.

This story was first reported in the Los Angeles Education Examiner by Sara Roos.

I mistakenly attributed the initial reporting to parent advocate Carl Petersen .

Roos reported that Superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker, has brought management consultants Bain and Company to provide strategic guidance to the district.

With Governor Cuomo assigning the task of “reimagining” education in New York, and Austin Beutner calling on Bain and Company, it bears mentioning that none of these people are educators.

Los Angeles has an elected school board.

Why is the superintendent turning to a management consulting business with no experience in education to guide the district in these troubled times? Why isn’t the school board, which is Beutner’s employer, making the strategic decisions?

This is “disaster capitalism” (Naomi Klein’s apt term) at its worst. This is another instance of the Pandemic Shock Doctrine.

Beutner works for the board. They should stop him before he outsources the district management to unaccountable and unqualified “experts.”

Shawgi Tell, professor at Nazareth College in New York, describes the multiple ways in which corporate charter chains are cashing in during the pandemic.

He begins:

While private businesses like non-profit and for-profit charter schools have been seizing enormous sums of public money for decades,1 they continue to seize hundreds of millions of public dollars during the “COVID Pandemic”—a move that further undermines the nation’s public education system and economy.

The latest example of this massive transfer of public funds to segregated charter schools involves $200 million set aside a few weeks ago for large corporate charter school chains by billionaire Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education. This pay-the-rich scheme is taking place in the context of more brutal cuts to public school budgets around the country.

On top of this, in the current crisis, which is worse than the 2008 economic collapse engineered by Wall Street, charter school advocates are also taking virtue-signaling to new heights, casually and repeatedly lauding themselves as saviors and as “tried-and-true online experts,” even though many have ironically(?) turned away from notoriously poor-performing cyber charter schools in this disruptive transition to inefficient digital “communication” at all levels of education. Most people have simply not turned to online charter schools during this crisis. They recognize that online charter schools are subpar and not the way forward. Even well-funded organizations that support charter schools, like the neoliberal Center for Research on Education and Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, bemoan the persistently abysmal performance of cyber charter schools.

The conceited charter school sector believes, however, that this virtue-signaling will suddenly cause people to forget that charter schools are notorious for all sorts of corruption, fraud, and scandal. While the “COVID Pandemic” has overwhelmed many, people have not spontaneously forgotten the poor track record of cyber charter schools or brick-and-mortar charter schools.

The necessity today is for governments at all levels to cease funneling much-needed public funds to private business like charter schools and to direct these funds to public schools that serve 90% of the nation’s students. Public funds belong to public schools and charter schools are not public schools. There is no such thing as a public charter school, especially given the fact that charter schools are now openly claiming to be small private businesses so as to obtain public Small Business Administration money (from the CARES Act) that regular public schools, precisely because they are actually public, do not have access to.

Read on.

As the old saying goes, better to steal a million dollars than to steal a loaf of bread. The former is smart thinking, the latter is a crime.

In Livermore, California, the leaders of a charter chain were charged with securities fraud. But they got off without any criminal charges or jail time.

When you read this story, you realize what clever guys they were to figure out such a complex scheme. You have to be an accountant to follow the money.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged former CEO of the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, Bill Batchelor, with allegedly misleading investors when acquiring a $25 million bond for Livermore charter schools.

Batchelor and John Zukoski, the former director of finance for the schools, were charged with a violation of the antifraud provision of the Securities Act of 1933. They were accused of helping prepare and sign a bond-offering document of $25.54 million to fund the purchase and renovation of a Livermore building to house two schools in May 2015. One was a charter school run by the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC) and the other was a private school, which Batchelor also managed.

But according to the complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California and made public this week, both men were aware that TVLC had “serious cash flow problems” that would negatively affect the corporation’s ability to make payments on the bonds. The commission also alleges that TVLC was delinquent on payments owed to vendors, had other debt from a private loan that was overdue by a year and had drawn a bank line of credit to its limit in a previous bond.

But, the bond document failed to disclose that TVLC was in “serious financial distress,” and both Batchelor and Zukoski signed documents stating the material had no misrepresentations or omissions.

Without admitting any wrongdoing, Batchelor and Zukoski agreed to not participate in any future municipal debt offerings. Batchelor agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty, and Zukoski a $15,000 penalty. Both settlements are subject to a court approval, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

TVLC and California Preparatory Academy, the private high school school, went before the Alameda County Board of Supervisors seeking approval for a $30 million municipal bond to finance the purchase of a new high school building at 3090 Independence Drive in May 2015.

The bond was approved, and the Livermore Valley Charter Prep high school and the private school ended up sharing the same space on Independence Drive in Livermore.

This editorial appeared in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, a newspaper that has paid close attention to the scandals and frauds in the charter industry.

It begins:

Operators of two Indiana charter schools spent nearly $86 million in tax dollars at businesses in which they had ties. The money came from state tuition support for students who, in some cases, were never enrolled in the schools.

This is the school choice Indiana lawmakers celebrate – a breathtaking violation of the public trust.

A special report by the State Board of Accounts was released last week, based on an investigation of Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy. Chalkbeat, an online education news service, first reported in 2017 that one of the online schools collected nearly $10 million in 2015-16 while graduating only 5.7% of its seniors – the lowest graduation rate in the state. Chalkbeat revealed a web of business interests between school founder Thomas Stoughton and AlphaCom, a for-profit company he operated while charging the school millions for management services and rent for offices in a suburban Indianapolis office park.

State auditors found public funds misappropriated through “malfeasance, misfeasance, and/or nonfeasance.” The complexity of the scam required a diagram to lay out ties among Stoughton, other charter officials and 14 private companies that shared in ill-gotten school funds – almost $69 million.

 

Chalkbeat’s reporting found discrepancies in enrollment now confirmed by the state. In more than 4,700 examples, children reported as enrolled completed no courses. Another 3,811 were flagged with just one or more course completions. The ghost enrollees included individuals who died or moved out of state, students withdrawn for lack of participation and some who did nothing beyond requesting information on the school. Counted as enrollees, they drew thousands of dollars each in state support that was, in turn, funneled to connected vendors. In the 2017-18 school year alone, the audit identified $15.5 million in overpaid tuition support.

Asked about the State Board of Account’s report, House Speaker Brian Bosma defended the virtual school program and pointed to Daleville Community Schools, the tiny public school district that granted its name as authorizer of the charter schools, and the Department of Education, overseen by Indiana schools chief Jennifer McCormick. The Republican state superintendent, whose office was eliminated by the legislature effective next year, has been outspoken in calling for greater accountability for schools of choice.

Blaming the Department of Education for the abuses of charter school operators is like blaming the BMV for the actions of a drunk driver. Responsibility for lax regulations and oversight for both charter schools and voucher schools falls squarely on Bosma and the GOP supermajority. In cozying up to the deep-pocketed school-choice community, they ignored glaring examples of corruption here and elsewhere. It was almost 11 years ago when The Journal Gazette first reported on the suspicious real estate deals surrounding two Imagine Inc. charter schools in Fort Wayne – schools that eventually shut down with $3.6 million in outstanding state loans.

Charter school scandals are so common that the Network for Public Education began collecting them on a website and tagging them on Twitter: #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal.

“There is a crisis of charter corruption in the United States and sadly the powerful charter lobby stops every attempt to enact reform,” said Carol Burris, executive director of the organization. “In 2019 alone the Network for Public Education identified four major virtual charter scandals, including Indiana’s two schools. A California virtual scandal cost that state’s taxpayers over $50 million. Virtual charter schools have a pattern of ‘cooking the books’ when it comes to attendance and enrollment, and have the worst outcomes when it comes to student achievement.”

Do Indiana taxpayers care?

The principal of the Discovery Creemos Charter School pled guilty to inflating enrollment and stealing $2.5 million from the state and federal governments. 

The former principal of the shuttered Discovery Creemos Academy pleaded guilty Friday to participating in a $2.5 million scheme to inflate enrollment at the defunct charter school.

Harold Cadiz, 55, faces up to 12 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court to two counts of felony theft during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. He’s scheduled to be sentenced March 27.

Cadiz is the second administrator from the Goodyear charter school, also known as the Bradley Academy of Excellence, to admit to participating in the scheme to defraud the state and federal governments by inflating the school’s enrollment by hundreds of students.

Cadiz’s plea calls for a prison sentence of 3 to 12 ½ years and up to 7 years of probation.

Arizona public schools are funded based on the number of students, meaning each additional student a school reports to the state brings more tax dollars.

Daniel K. Hughes, president and CEO of Discovery Creemos, was the first executive at the school to cut a plea bargain with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, admitting to theft and conspiracy in November 2018. He faces a presumptive prison sentence of five years.

The school closed January 2018, just after the 100th day of the school year, ensuring it would receive as much state money as possible before it closed.

A few months before Discovery Creemos Academy closed, Hughes had assured the Charter Board that he would turn around the financially and academically failing charter school. Reviews by the Charter Board for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years found the school did not meet its financial performance recommendations.

Hughes has admitted that during the 2017-18 school year, his school reported an enrollment of 528 students, but 453 of them were fraudulent. In 2016-17, the school reported it had 652 students, but 191 were fraudulent.

 

 

 

The biggest and worst charter scandals are perpetrated by virtual charter schools. Why do states tolerate their waste, fraud, and abuse?

The only online charters should be operated and supervised by public officials, not by grifters and entrepreneurs.

Indiana was just scammed of more than $68 million by two virtual charters. This was money that should have spent on children and in classrooms to reduce class sizes and pay teachers.

Why did the authorizer ignore the graft? Could it be that it was getting paid a commission for each student supposedly enrolled in these “schools”? Enough fraud to pay off almost everyone.

Early estimates of just how much money two online schools stole from the state of Indiana were wrong, according to a report filed Wednesday by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.

A special investigation into malfeasance by Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy found that the schools inappropriately received more than $68.7 million collectively.

Last summer, state investigators revealed that the charter schools had inflated their enrollment to defraud the state — by enrolling students who’d simply requested information on the schools’ website, re-enrolling students after they’d left the schools or, in one case, by keeping a deceased student on their books more than a year after their death.

The state funds public schools — which include virtual charter schools — based on the number of students enrolled each year. At the time, investigators estimated overpayments to be around $40 million.

The new report details widespread fraud, misuse of state funds and a severe lack of oversight by school officials and the schools’ charter authorizer, Daleville Community Schools.