Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Oregon Bans Online School Operator for Life (but not Washington State)

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 the state.

"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).



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Breaking News! KUOW just announced King County Superior Court has ruled WA Charters are unconstitutional.

EdVoter

Catherine said...

RE the Oregon case... it appears that in WA we forgot to put "passes criminal background check" in to the charter regs. Awesome.

mirmac1 said...

"King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel ruled Thursday that Washington's charter school initiative, which was passed in 2012, can continue to move forward.

Rietschel did find that the part of the designating charter schools as a "common school" was unconstitutional. That means charter schools may not be eligible for funding sources only open to common schools."

Anonymous said...

I had time to quickly read the judge's opinion when I arrived home. The initial KUOW report overstated the unconstitutionality ruling. The judge found only part of the legislation unconstitutional -- and further -- ruled that those portions are "severable" which I believe means that the rest (majority) of the legislation can remain in effect even if the designated parts are struck from the law.

There are other parts where the judge says the plaintiffs (anti-Charter) may have valid points, but that they fail as facial challenges (always unconstitutional). In effect, this means, I believe, that there may be room to argue the point, but not pre-emptively.

As has always been assumed, most of the case will be challenged to the state Supreme Court and today does not change that.

The state attorney general and Charter mouthpiece Lisa McFarlane and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER, a charter-backed organization) are claiming in multiple media outlets that it is "full steam ahead" on implementing charters. The WEA (state teacher's union) is saying Not So Fast.

Goldy on The Stranger's Slog has a bit of analysis on the ruling, too.

EdVoter

mirmac1 said...

In my quick read of the RCW and regs, everything seems directed to "common schools". I would presume that would include state-funding of same.

As for the DFER spin, the lady doth protest too much methinks.