The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) launched their Oversight.gov website last year, allowing the public to see the reports and recommendations of 73 Inspectors General offices. According to Michael Horowitz, Justice Department IG and CIGIE chairman, the Inspector Generals are there to ensure that “…taxpayer money is being wisely used, appropriately used, not wasted, and that government programs are being run effectively and efficiently.” The website includes a chart depicting the potential cost savings identified in the reports of the IG over the current fiscal year, usually reaching $20 million. The website allows for further transparency and accountability on behalf of the government.
Long-buried report concluded Chicago school principal ignored warnings in horrific sexual abuse case
The Chicago Tribune recently reported on a case that Maribeth Vander Weele initiated in 2001 when she served as Inspector General of Chicago Public Schools. The case, disclosed in court records, is relevant today as CPS implements reforms to protect children from sexual violence. Since 2008, police have investigated 523 cases of sexual abuse or assault of students in Chicago Public Schools, the Tribune reported.
By law, school personnel must report even a suspicion of child abuse to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
In 2001, Vander Weele received a complaint that a principal ignored warnings of a sexual predator at Johnson Elementary School, and immediately launched an investigation. Her team learned that in 1986, Marvin Lovett began volunteering at the school and was later hired to run a program for boys. While a trusted mentor for children, he enticed boys to his apartment and secretly made pornographic videotapes using a hidden camera. Vander Weele's team found that Principal Mattie Tyson ignored at least four warnings about Lovett and continued to permit Lovett to volunteer and work at the school. When speaking to investigators, Tyson denied knowing about the abuse or the warnings.
In 2000, a former student and abuse victim shot Lovett to death. After his death, Lovett was accused of sexually abusing 19 boys in the North Lawndale community. The investigation by
Vander Weele's team concluded that "Tyson knew or should have known that Lovett was either an active pedophile or posed a risk to the students at Johnson School" and that she "had reasonable cause to believe that children known to her in her professional or official capacity may have been abused." Her failure to inform child welfare officials was a violation of both CPS policy and state law, Vander Weele’s team concluded.
The Tribune reported that after Vander Weele left the school system in 2002, the findings of her report were overturned with a one-line explanation. In 2018, the report was brought to light in a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools for failing to protect students from the abuse they endured at the hands of Lovett. This is the largest known case of sexual abuse involving a CPS worker, volunteer, or vendor in recent decades, and has led to $2.7 million in legal settlements.
Tyson was not disciplined and retired in 2004.
In 2003, Maribeth Vander Weele founded the Vander Weele Group, a firm that provides oversight to large-scale programs that serve children and at-risk populations.
Last week the U.S. Senate passed the long-awaited Juvenile Justice Reform Act to improve the Juvenile Justice System and provide better support for children at risk of participating in crime. Such improvements will focus on education and rehabilitation, funding initiatives to support at-risk children in their communities, removing young offenders from adult prisons, and ceasing to imprison youth for minor offenses. There is hope that these reforms will prevent survivors of sexual abuse from being re-traumatized in prison environments, which could have significant impact on the lives of youth given that the majority of incarcerated young women are survivors of sexual abuse. Representative Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House on Education and the Workforce, has called the passage of this Act “a major victory for America’s youth…with these reforms, we can meet young people where they are, making enormous progress in prevention and equipping more people to better serve juvenile offenders better and meet the needs of communities. This bill will improve program accountability while promoting evidence-based solutions to give more young adults the tools and skills they need to achieve lifelong success.” Like other Federal laws that authorize grants programs, this legislation contains stringent requirements for grants monitoring.
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By the Arizona Republic Editorial Board
Twenty years ago, Arizona was on the cutting edge of school choice and the charter school movement was designed to produce specific goals for parents, students and schools. It’s time look at how it worked.
They had a record 180,000 students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the Arizona Charter Schools Association. They received more than $1 billion in public money in fiscal 2016, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
But a new report shows disturbing consequences from Arizona’s failure to demand accountability and transparency from these publicly funded operations.
The report from the Grand Canyon Institute, a centrist think tank, needs to become part of ongoing discussions about larger issue of school funding in Arizona.
Lax rules invite financial abuses
It identified practices that invite financial abuses at charter schools but are not illegal under Arizona law.
The three-year study also found that administrative salaries are higher in charter schools and teacher salaries are lower than in district public schools. In addition, classroom spending and academic performance are both lower in charters than in district schools.
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On top of a state audit, Sweetwater schools face $11 million negative fund balance after previously projecting a surplus
Sweetwater Union High School District faces an $11 million negative fund balance despite officials claiming they would end the year with a surplus. The San Diego County Office of Education has commissioned an audit after a state fiscal analysis found the district misrepresented its finances for years, frequently under-reporting its spending and over-estimating its revenue. The analysis found widespread breach of internal controls, which raises red flags for the potential of fraud. The report also highlighted the district’s lack of a comprehensive strategy to repay a $68 million debt due in June. Should the school district officials fail to improve the financial situation, the district may require a state bailout and be taken over by the county’s education office, taking years to regain local control.
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The FBI accumulated detailed evidence in the investigation of college basketball corruption that includes programs such as Arizona, Louisville, Auburn, Miami, USC, and Oklahoma State. The evidence surrounds agent Andy Miller and an associate, Christian Dawkins, and includes documents, bank records, and wire taps that delineate records of payments and scheduled payments to players and families. The fallout from this scandal is ongoing but includes Louisville head coach, Rick Pitino, who was fired in October after law enforcement announced a probe in its investigation due to allegations of “fraud and malfeasance” and contract violations in recruiting basketball players. Louisville was then forced to vacate 123 wins, including the 2013 title and 2012 Final Four.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Unconstitutional spending last year means state lawmakers will have to pay the lottery millions before it begins to set the state's education budget.
The Board of Equalization determined last month the state supplanted the education budget with $10 million from the lottery.
Under law, lottery money may only be used as a sort of bonus on top of education funding. It may not take the place of regular funding.
"Clearly, we've had a problem," said David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. "Education funding has been cut year after year. This is the first time, however, they've been able to say this is at least in part attributable to lottery money not being used as intended."
Relatively speaking, $10 million is a small chunk of the state's roughly $7 billion - and even the education department's approximately $2.5 billion budget.
But, in a year when lawmakers are already struggling to figure out how to fill a nearly $900 million budget deficit, every dollar counts.
By Scott Daugherty, The Virginian-Pilot
The co-owner of a Chesapeake barber college was sentenced Wednesday to more than five years in prison on charges he defrauded the Veterans Affairs Department out of more than $4.5 million.
His wife, the other owner, is to be sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
But what about the more than 350 veterans who collected over $10.5 million in GI Bill benefits while attending the “sham school,” where the unofficial motto was “We’re here to earn, not to learn”? That remains unclear.
To date, no students have been charged, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment. Joshua Stueve cited an “ongoing investigation.”
When they finish looking into the College of Beauty and Barber Culture in Chesapeake, prosecutors will have to review each student’s case.
But even if they wanted to pursue charges against 350-some students, they probably couldn’t. The Norfolk office secured only 172 federal indictments total in 2016.
Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney Nancy Parr said this week that federal authorities had not referred any cases relating to the barber college to her office.
William Grobes IV, 45, pleaded guilty in November to two felonies: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
D.C. is misspending millions of dollars intended to help the city’s poorest students
The District’s public school system has misspent millions of dollars designated to help the city’s most vulnerable students, directing the money instead to cover day-to-day costs, according to government data, D.C. Council members and education activists.
The money is intended to provide extra academic attention and social services to boost the academic performance of children who lag behind their wealthier peers. But D.C. Public Schools uses a big chunk of the money to plug holes in the budget, covering routine costs such as paying the salaries of art teachers and aides.
“There’s no way we are going to help those students rise out of poverty if we don’t give them what they need,” said Ava Millstone, a parent at Amidon-Bowen Elementary, a school near the Southwest Waterfront with a large population of low-income students.
DCPS distributes about $50 million a year to benefit disadvantaged students in the District’s traditional public schools. That amounts to about $2,000 per eligible child. But nearly half of the money in the 2016-2017 academic year was used for other purposes, according to an independent budget analysis conducted by Mary Levy, a longtime schools budget analyst who in the past has worked as a paid consultant to the school system.
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Indiana was ranked 46th — of 50 states plus the District of Columbia — meaning that it is further along the privatization track than most other places in the country. For privatization advocates, that ranking would be looked upon favorably. For advocates of public education, it isn’t.
[There is a movement to privatize public education in America. Here’s how far it has gotten.]
The Journal Gazette in Indiana wrote a July 8 editorial about that report, saying in part:
Indiana’s dismal record for oversight of online charter schools is one reason it earned its own failing grade in a report evaluating the extent to which states divert money from traditional public schools to private schools and charter schools operated by for-profit management companies. The survey, by the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation, which might be easily dismissed as biased except that its findings are irrefutable, notes:
• Indiana has three separate programs designed to funnel tax dollars from public schools, at a conservative estimate of $171 million a year. “Indiana law has continued to morph over the years so that prior enrollment in a public school is no longer needed to receive a voucher for private school,” wrote Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education. “That means that taxpayers are now funding private school tuition previously paid for by parents.”
• Private schools receiving tax dollars are allowed to discriminate against students for whom English is not their first language by not providing services and can discriminate in enrollment on the basis of religion. “It is a system in which the school, not the parent, does the choosing.” Burris wrote in an email.
• Failing charter schools have been allowed to convert to voucher schools, so that they can “continue indefinitely,” Burris wrote.
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