In one of those likely "it's only a matter of time" stories, The Oregonian reports that Tim King, who is a charter school chain operator in Oregon was recently banned - for life -in a court settlement from ever "running, advising, or otherwise getting financially involved with any charter school in Oregon." He and a partner also must pay the state of Oregon $475k and dismantle their schools.
You can imagine the repercussions to students and parents at those schools.
The pair had been accused of engaging in "racketeering, money laundering and other fraud in operating charter schools in Oregon from 2007-2010." The Oregon DOJ had initially wanted $20M but backed off because "the state now believes most of the $17M that went to them was legitimately used to educate" Oregon students.
The Oregon Department of Education provided start-up grants of up to $450,000 per charter
school. It also paid about $6,000 a year
for each student enrolled, relying on the charter school operators to
document the number. The state now says those records were "erroneous,
false and misleading."
The "matter of time" part is that Mr. King now operates a Washington-stated funded online school, Northwest AllPrep. From The Oregonian:
The school, which educates about 200 students in grades three through 12, is overseen by the Toppenish School District in the Yakima Valley but lists its business address at an office park just off I-205 and SE Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver.
Karl Nelson, director of Washington's Digital Learning Department, said his agency is aware of the
sanctions that a judge ordered for King, including the lifetime ban on
being financially involved with any Oregon charter school.
But he said King has met all the requirements to operate a Washington
school and his school's finances have passed regular on-site audits by
"We don't have any evidence of any wrongdoing in
association with the school he is operating here," Nelson said.
As I previously mentioned, I have not reviewed the charter applications but I'll be sure to look for these two men's names.
The Charter Commission is really going to have to do due diligence if this is what is out there (and already operating using taxpayer dollars in Washington State).