In a recent U.S. Department of Education’s (Department), Office of Inspector General (OIG) report to Congress, OIG identified certain conflicts of interest between charter schools and their for profit and non-profit management organizations. As a result, last week on September 28, 2015, the Department issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” to state education agencies (SEAs). The letter urged SEAs to:
1. Step up accountability monitoring of charter schools.
2. Step up accountability monitoring of charter school authorizers.
3. Ensure that appropriate charter school and internal authorizer fiscal controls involving the use of IDEA funding are in place.
4. Ensure that IDEA funds are used for an intended and appropriate purpose.
To help insure oversight of charters, the Department recommended that charter school oversight include:
1. Regular independent auditing of charter schools.
2. Filing all independent audits with the charter authorizer and the SEA.
3. Review charter school governing boards for:
a. Conflicts of interest.
b. Related party transactions.
c. Appropriate segregation of duties.
4. Increasing transparency.
5. Taking appropriate corrective actions.
6. Eliminating poor management practices.