June 26, 2013
Provided to Florida Public Employees
By Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings
As part of his spirited defense of Charter Schools USA and their role in the takeover attempt of seven Pembroke Pines schools, CEO Jonathan Hage pointed to CSUSA’s takeover of Indianapolis schools:
Last year the State of Indiana invited Charter Schools USA to partner on turning around the lowest performing schools in Indianapolis. We diagnosed each school’s symptoms and developed solutions and strategies for improvement on a case-by-case scenario. We looked at improving the curriculum, the leadership, the quality of teachers and the culture.
Most importantly, we didn’t dismiss solutions because of political innuendos. Instead, we reviewed each of our decisions through the prism of what would be most beneficial to the students. In just one year we are already seeing great success in turning around some of our nation’s toughest schools.
Political innuendos, eh? More like political patronage.
In December last year, Scathing Purple Musings reported that as a result of a sweetheart deal from Tony Bennett, Hage received $6 million more for those Indianapolis schools than he should have. From reporter Dan Goldblatt of Indiana Public Media:
A Marion County judge has decided that the Indiana State Board of Education misappropriated several million dollars of funding to charter schools. The money was being withheld from Indianapolis Public Schools.
When private companies took over four Indianapolis Public Schools to become charters, the State Board of Education counted the number of kids enrolled in the takeover schools during the 2011-2012 academic year, the last year IPS was in charge.
When the charter schools took over this year, enrollment in those four schools dropped by almost 50-percent. However, according to a statement from IPS, the state gave the charter schools funding based on the previous year’s enrollment.
Furthermore, IPS charged, the money tied to the kids who transferred from a takeover school back to IPS did not follow the child; it stayed with the charter school.
A judge this week decided the state should have looked at this year’s enrollment when distributing funding to the schools, and ruled that more than $6 million must be returned to IPS.
Three of the four schools taken over are now operated by Charter Schools USA. Spokesperson Colleen Reynolds says while she doesn’t know if or how the state will recoup the money, it does not plan to change its model.
“We are going to provide the educational services and the caring environment that we’ve established so far,” she says. “We’re going to continue what we’ve been doing.”
The Department of Education says it is currently reviewing the ruling to determine next steps
And it looks like Hage and Charter Schools USA got to keep most of the money, too. Writes Indianapolis Star reporter Scott Elliott:
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