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Audit Faults Federal Charter-Fund Tracking

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| Includes correction(s).

An audit of charter school spending at the U.S. Department of Education concludes that federal officials have not properly monitored how states have spent that money, with particular oversight problems noted at the state department level in Arizona, California, and Florida.

The report, conducted by the Education Department's office of the inspector general, found that the federal agency's office of innovation and improvement, which oversees grants to states for charter schools, as well as direct grants to charters, did not check if states followed federal regulations for using the money and did not keep track of how individual charters used the grants.

From fiscal 2007 to 2011, the department provided $940 million to charter schools through various grants.

In an executive summary, the report states that the U.S. department "did not have an adequate corrective-action plan process in place to ensure grantees corrected deficiencies noted in annual monitoring reports, did not have a risk-based approach for selecting [local] grantees for monitoring, and did not adequately review grantees' fiscal activities."

The inspector-general report found state-level problems in Arizona, California, and Florida concerning how they monitored their own activities related to the grants. Combined, the three states received $275 million in charter school funds from fiscal 2008 to 2011.

There were a variety of criticisms for how these states monitored the spending of money for charter schools. Arizona, for example, "could not provide written procedures outlining the process for a charter school closure," while California did not adequately document how it tracked assets from closed charter schools. All three states were criticized for not adequately monitoring charter schools receiving grants from their state education departments.

Vol. 32, Issue 10, Page 4

Published in Print: October 31, 2012, as Audit Faults Federal Charter-Fund Tracking
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An earlier version of this story misstated a contractor's role in the inspector general's audit. WestEd was not a contractor to the inspector general, though data from the San Francisco-based research group were cited in the document.

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