Sunday, April 21, 2019

Schools Matter: A charter school story

First published on Schools Matter on April 16, 2019


I want to apologize to Schools Matter readers for my infrequent contributions. I thought once I graduated from law school and passed the most difficult bar examination in the country on my first attempt, that I'd have more time to write. Instead, in addition to my long-time day job, I now have an internship once a week at an education law firm, and I am teaching on Thursday nights at my law school. In a word — I'm swamped. However, I managed to piece together this twitter thread on Monday, that I thought was worth reposting here.


Researching for a case and came across a personal injury settlement between a charter school corporation in the Central Valley and multiple student plaintiffs for some $6-million+. The amount is on the low side considering the horrific injuries some of the students suffered.

It was the typical charter school money-making scam. They had a former employee form an unregistered and uninsured transportation company. The charter's Vice Principle provided one of their family's vehicles to that company. They paid themselves $6K a month from public money to operate a vehicle that had several defective seatbelts. Moreover, they consistently exceeded the vehicle's passenger capacity. Students had to share seats and some had to ride on the floor.

Struck by another vehicle traveling at high speed, the charter corporation's vehicle rolled multiple times and ejected several of the unrestrained students. The injuries were as bad as you could imagine them to be.

This was the inevitable result of putting public money into private hands. Because charter school corporations are privately managed with de minimis oversight, transparency, and accountability, they find ways to channel public revenue streams into their pockets, all the while cutting corners on students. Here, that cost cutting had drastic consequences that altered the lives of several students whose injuries were severe.

In this case it was a transportation company that the charter corporation created, but we've seen the same thing with Charter Management Organization real estate holding firms, and charter school side-companies like convicted felon and charter school mogul Refugio 'Ref' Rodriguez's Better 4 You Foods and Better 4 You Fundraising.

The diversion of public funds to private pockets doesn't stop at individual charter school corporations, as evidenced by their trade association—the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). CCSA sells its member charter schools products and services, paid for out of the public purse. One of them, which would later become known as CharterSafe, generated profits so lucrative, that large firms like Travelers and Gallagher & Co. partnered with them. Here's a quote from a CCSA executive:

"…generated 30% profit margins in subsequent years–with 20-30% lead generation and 20-50% close ratios."


Postscript:

The examples of charter corporation greed and self-dealing keep increasing. It's the inevitable result of putting public money into private hands.



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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

LAUSD District 5 Special Election morning after (March 6, 2019)

Looks like the two good candidates — Jackie Goldberg and Graciela Ortiz — will be in the run-off, and the vile California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has no candidate to support in Los Angeles Unified School District 5. The CCSA shouldn’t be able to replace their convicted felon Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez with another one of their own ever again.

Glad to see that right-wing privatizers Allison Greenwood Bajracharya, Heather Repenning, and Ana Cubas are likely done. Cubas couldn’t even manage 1,000 votes on Tuesday — I finished with 5,244 votes in 2013.



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