We hear all to often in the public dialog around charter public schools that they are “not accountable.”
Charter public schools are highly regulated, have oversight from a local school district, and are required to prove that they are educating students and appropriately spending taxpayer dollars in their programs. Let’s detail some of that accountability.
- Every 5 years a charter school is required to make a presentation to a local school board, County Office of Education, or the State Board of Education to detail their results. If the school is not fulfilling the charter, (planned outcomes and objectives) the governing Board can vote to close the school. This process does not apply to traditional public schools.
- That high level of accountability is also extended to parents whose children attend the charter public school. If students are not learning, parents can remove their children and the school by default will close based on parents opting out of the program. Traditional public schools offer some parents an inter-district transfer to another school, however a majority of students stay in these failing traditional programs.
- Charter public schools offering an independent study format, like The Classical Academies, is required annually to report exactly how their revenue was expended and is required to meet state mandated thresholds for teacher salaries and benefits, student instruction, and the cost of managing the program. If defined thresholds are not met, the State will cut funding to the program resulting in a possible closure due to not enough revenue to run the program. This process does not apply to traditional public schools.
- Charter schools are required to have an annual independent financial and program audit. In the event that financial irregularities or fraud is uncovered the local school district, County Office of Education, or State Board overseeing the school can revoke the charter and close the school in this instance. In traditional districts, independent audits are performed every three years and financial irregularity or fraud does not result in the closure of schools.
- A local school district, County Office of Education, or State Board overseeing the school closes charter public schools that are failing students academically or found to be fiscally unsound. Traditional schools that are academically failing are by default given more money in hopes of seeing that results are changed.
Now knowing some of the facts, who has greater accountability, charter public schools or traditional schools?