Charter School Scandals

The number of charter school scandals makes it impossible to keep up with all of them. The list below is not meant to be complete, but just a quick overview.

Articles are ordered by date and Tennessee charter scandals have dates in bold text with a blue background.

Sept. 16, 2022 – Rochester, NY

“Students were supposed to start school at Genesee Community Charter School’s Flour City campus on August 31, but a combination of issues has led to a major delay.”

Start of school year on hold at new Rochester charter school

Sept. 15, 2022 – Jackson, TN

“No compelling evidence for waiver request that would align to student achievement, no local Madison County representation on the Charter Board and lacking a contingency plan to meet financial needs in the early years,” said Dr. Vivian Williams, Deputy Superintendent for the Jackson-Madison County School System.

The board also argued that the charter presented no evidence for supporting all students or how they would address learning loss.

Intent to bring charter school to Jackson-Madison Co. met with opposition at public hearing

Sept. 15, 2022 Rutherford Co TN

More Fallout over Hillsdale-affiliated Charters

In a state public hearing dominated by supporters of Hillsdale-affiliated American Classical Academy Rutherford, in Rutherford County, TN, opponents of the charter school say they were shut out of a chance to speak.

Sparks fly over Hillsdale-affiliated charter school appeal in Rutherford

Sept. 7, 2022 – West Philadelphia, PA

“While problems had been brewing at Daroff for a while, she said, administrators repeatedly assured her that her children would have a normal school year. So last Friday, Flamer and hundreds of parents were blindsided when they learned — in most cases from media reports — that their children’s school would close.”

“Literally, it’s like the school has disappeared. Poof! It’s gone,” she said.”

The abrupt closure of Daroff Charter School in West Philly blindsided parents.

Aug. 31, 2022 – Washington, D.C.

Kevin Ward, the former Maryland mayor who died by apparent suicide in January, has been accused of embezzling millions in public funds from one of the largest charter school systems in Washington, D.C., prior to his death, according to a new lawsuit.

Former Maryland Mayor who died in January Accused of Embezzling $2.2 Million from DC Charter School System

Aug. 26, 2022 – Indianapolis, IN

Genius School / Ignite Achievement Academy
Now called “The Genius School,” Ignite Achievement Academy was removed from Indianapolis Public Schools after poor performance. It still operates this school year, but under its new name.

Lawsuits, claims of discrimination, and claims of retaliation for reporting a teacher with a criminal record are just some of the issues here:

After troubles in IPS, Ignite charter school rebrands

Aug. 22, 2022 – Nashville, TN

Conservative commentators with ties to Hillsdale College have come to Arnn’s defense, writing that public school teachers have low SAT scores and poor literacy skills, and are indoctrinated in “cultural Marxism.”

Tennessee showdown: Governor’s big plan for right-wing charter schools sparks fierce backlash

Aug. 2, 2022 – Osceola County, FL

“…only 10 of ACCA’s 28 teachers were certified and proved that students were not provided Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and English Language Learners (ELL) services as outlined in their Individual Education Plans (IEP).”

“A termination letter from the superintendent said the school is in financial trouble, writing that an audit showed that in 2021, expenditures at the end of that year were more than $600,000 in the red.”

Florida judge denies Osceola County charter school appeal, terminates contract

July 25, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA

“The costs of charter schools for school districts continue to grow significantly each year, with charter tuition paid by school districts up 327% over the last 13 years.”

Superintendents call for charter school reform

July 11, 2022 – Washington

Washington state’s charter school oversight agency said Impact Public Schools misappropriated state funds by enrolling more than 60 4-year-olds in kindergarten and must repay approximately $790,000.

WA charter school under audit for ‘improper receipt’ of state funding

June 8, 2022 – Sarasota, FL

For-Profit Charter Application Denied

“”This is not the caliber of school that belongs in our district,” board member Tom Edwards said. “We’ve heard from our community pretty resoundingly.”

“It is incumbent upon this board to represent the interests of the citizens here, our tax dollars and appropriate oversight, to deny this application,” Cathy Antunes said. “Our governor has put in place a panel to circumvent your board, and that’s wrong.”

Sarasota School Board denies for-profit charter application for school near Wellen Park

October 14, 2021 – Nashville, TN

Abigail Tylor, the MNPS board member representing the district where the school will open, said that despite what Nashville Classical presented, the commission “ruled against both local control and community will.”

Charter school commission overrides Metro Schools, approves new school

Dec. 30, 2019 – Nashville, TN

“The State Board of Education’s reversal was contrary to the informed decision of our Metro School Board and the best interests of Nashville’s students,” her statement said. “Metro Legal filed this lawsuit on behalf of Metro Schools to seek relief from the state’s actions and I hope the court finds in favor of Nashville and allows us to uphold higher standards for charter operators in Metro Nashville.”

Nashville asks judge to overturn state decision to keep Knowledge Academies charter schools open

Sept. 17, 2019 – Nashville, TN

From a Facebook post by Amy Frogge on September 18, 2019:

Nashville just got taken for a ride. Here’s how it happened:

Back in 2007, Superintendent Joseph Wise and his Chief of Staff, David Sundstrom, were fired from their jobs in Florida for “serious misconduct.” Wise is a graduate of LA billionaire Eli Broad’s “superintendents academy,” which trains business leaders as superintendents with the purpose of privatizing schools (closing existing schools and opening more charter schools).

After losing their jobs, Wise and Sundstrom founded Atlantic Research Partners (ARP) and began making millions from Chicago schools. ARP then acquired parts of SUPES Academy, a superintendent training company, and merged with the recruiting firm, Jim Huge and Associates. SUPES Academy, however, was shut down after Chicago superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett pled guilty to federal corruption charges for steering no-bid contracts to SUPES Academy, her former firm, in exchange for financial kickbacks. Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance was also involved in this scandal.

Wise and Sundstrom also had their hands in other pots. They created a new entity called Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI), which charged education vendors to arrange meetings with school superintendents and simultaneously paid the same superintendents to “test out” the vendor products.

Now the story shifts to Nashville: In 2016, the Nashville Public Education Foundation pushed the school board to hire Jim Huge and Associates to perform our search for a new superintendent. The search brought us four “Broadies” (superintendents trained by or affiliated with the Broad academy), including a Teach for America alum with no advanced degree and no degree in education whatsoever, and Shawn Joseph, who was planning to attend the Broad Superintendents Academy at the time he was hired.

Jim Huge lied to the school board, telling us that the only highly qualified and experienced candidate, an African American female named Carol Johnson (who had served as superintendent of three major school systems, including Memphis and Boston), had withdrawn her name from the search. This was not true. Ultimately, the board hired Shawn Joseph.

When he arrived in Nashville, Joseph brought his friend, Dallas Dance, with him as an advisor- only about six months before Dance was sentenced to federal prison in connection with kick-backs for no-bid contracts in the SUPES Academy scandal. Joseph also brought in former Knoxville superintendent Jim McIntyre, another “Broadie” who had been ousted from his position in Knoxville amidst great acrimony, to serve as an advisor. Joseph began following a formula seen in other districts: He prohibited staff members from speaking to board members and immediately began discussion about closing schools. Like Byrd-Bennett and Dance, Joseph also began giving large, no-bid contracts to vendors and friends, some of which were never utilized. Some of the contracts were connected with ERDI, and Joseph’s Chief Academic Officer, Monique Felder, failed to disclose that she had been paid by ERDI (just like Dallas Dance, who committed perjury for failing to disclose part-time consulting work that benefitted him financially).

You can read the rest of the story- and much more- in the attached article. But the long and short of it is that the very same people who rigged our search to bring Shawn Joseph to Nashville are also the same people who stood to benefit from no-bid contracts with MNPS. These folks were also connected with illegal activities in other states.

In the end, Nashville suffered. “Among [the] negative outcomes are increased community acrimony, wasted education funds, and career debacles for what could perhaps have been promising school leaders.

In the case of Joseph and Nashville, controversies with his leadership decisions strongly divided the city’s black community, and taxpayers were stuck with a $261,250 bill for buying out the rest of his contract. As a result of the fallout, Joseph lost his state teaching license, and he vowed never to work in the state again.”

Another school leadership disaster: Private companies work an insider game to reap lucrative contracts