Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Galloway: Changes in state law could improve oversight of charter schools

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Oversight of Missouri's charter schools could improve if school board members were held to consistent training and qualification standards, an audit released today by State Auditor Nicole Galloway finds. 

The report on charter school oversight recommends that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) work with school sponsors and legislators to put such standards into state law, and work with sponsors to establish more consistent review of the schools.

Authorized by state law in 1998, charter schools receive the same funding as public schools but are allowed to operate free from some rules and regulations applicable to traditional public schools. Each charter school must have an approved sponsor. 

The Auditor's review of charter school closures identified 23 of the 26 schools closed for the primary reason of either financial distress, board or administration mismanagement, or poor academic performance. DESE officials indicated those reasons are directly linked to ineffective board oversight.

"Charter schools need strong leadership from their boards in order to succeed," Auditor Galloway said. "All too often, effective oversight has been lacking, and those schools have failed their students, communities and the taxpayers of Missouri. Establishing clear standards can help sponsors provide necessary, consistent and timely oversight of charter schools. I urge lawmakers to look at these recommendations and work with the DESE to make necessary changes in the next session."

Charter school board members are not required by state law to obtain a specific amount of training. This contrasts with public school board members, who must obtain 18.5 hours of training during their first year of service, followed by refresher training annually. State law also does not provide any minimum qualifications for a person to serve as a charter school board member. The initial board members are selected by the individuals or organization that open the school, with subsequent members appointed by the existing board.

In their response to the audit, DESE officials concurred with the recommendation to work with the sponsors and legislators, if necessary, to ensure charter school board members are appropriately trained and qualified.

The audit also found that charter school sponsor oversight of schools is not consistent. No set standards have been established for the frequency of reviews, contents of the annual oversight report, or what sponsors monitor at charter schools. DESE officials said they have recently implemented two initiatives to help address these weaknesses.

The complete audit report is available here.


Anonymous said...

Bout time, these schools are fine if run at same standards as public schools except for those using religious overtures to the kids. In addition they are run for profit and that makes it an unnecessary evil in my thinking. Education is not for gain except to provide children a education that will allow them to meld into society with open, educated and free thinking minds. These schools are usually run by zealots with a agenda that is wanting the students to be mimes of the sponsors whim. Kids are not mature enough to form reasonable and rational thought unless they receive a complete education with all views and concepts. This is a person that should be leading the state in both financial and political arena. She has proven time and again to be very neutral in her oversight of our political expenditures showing improper use of taxpayer funds by our lopsided legislature.

Anonymous said...

Many private schools are not for profit and struggle to pay their staff. And if you think public school teachers aren't paid very well, you should see some of the private school salaries (not all, but many).
Public schools have agendas that are designed by legislators. No one makes sure all sides are presented there.
The boards of these schools are there for the children's education. The last thing they need is DESE messing with them.