The audit report concerning Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) released today by Auditor General Eugene De Pasquale demonstrates a clear agenda to attack successful charters through patently false statements. This is another attempt to discredit the largest K-8 charter school in Pennsylvania, the one that is doing exactly what the state could not do: turn kids’ lives around and lead them onto a path to success.
Just this year, 58 students from our graduating class will be attending selective, high-performing high schools outside the district, all on scholarship. Last year the results were similar with more than half of CCCS graduates going on to high-performing high schools . The Auditor General’s report conveniently ignores these successes and turns to outright falsehoods to shift the focus away from CCCS’ achievements.
A Report Steeped in Errors
Among the many inaccuracies in the report are erroneously comparing recent lease agreements to the original 1997 charter when the charter has since been renewed three times; misrepresenting ownership of the land and buildings; misunderstanding PDE rules and regulations; misunderstanding admissions procedures; objecting to the manner in which minutes are bound; and, incorrectly faulting several reporting requirements and record keeping which had been properly completed and documented.
The egregious, error-riddled and blatantly biased nature of the Auditor’s report can only be considered harassment for no other purpose than to discredit a charter school that has had such great success in turning around lives.
The following are just a few of the many egregious errors in the report:
- The Auditor General utterly refused to look at public records showing that CCCS does not now, nor has it ever, owned the property that it presently leases. Public property records given to the Auditor General readily show that it has, in all relevant periods, been privately owned. Despite this evidence, the Auditor General concluded that CCCS is somehow leasing the property from itself.
- The Auditor General indicates that the charter school’s “founder” is the CEO of the charter school’s management company. This is false, as neither the charter school’s management company nor its CEO had any affiliation with CCCS when the charter school was granted its charter in 1998.
- The Auditor General makes the outrageous suggestion that CCCS gave away $50 million in real estate, even though records supplied to the Auditor General conclusively show that CCCS never owned the land it leases.
- The Auditor General acknowledges that nothing in the law requires a charter school to bind, number, and sign its board minutes in any particular way, yet he somehow concludes that CCCS violated the “law” by not using the proper binding, numbering, and signing system. To show just how absurd this “finding” is, the Auditor General found CCCS non-compliant with the law because it used spiral binding of its minutes instead of velo-binding.
- The Auditor General faulted CCCS for failing to force local police departments to sign certain statutory documents. Stated otherwise: the Auditor General concluded that CCCS should have somehow compelled the local police departments to put pen to paper on demand.
- The Auditor General faulted CCCS for not complying with a 1995 law from 1998 through 2011, even though the law did not even apply to charter schools until 2011.
- The Auditor General found that CCCS’s 1997 application was out of compliance with the law, and totally ignored that the 1997 application has been renewed three times. The Auditor General also fails to acknowledge that it audited CCCS in 2002 and in that year’s report, the Auditor General raised no issues concerning the 1997 application. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Auditor General incredibly states this is the first time the Auditor General has audited CCCS. If the Auditor General does not even know what its own records reveal, how can he be relied on to review CCCS’s records?
Incredibly, CCCS pointed out these and a host of other errors to the Auditor General repeatedly. The last time CCCS representatives did so earlier this summer, none of the auditors could acknowledge that they had even read CCCS’s May 20, 2013 written response outlining these errors. Regardless, the Auditor General’s representatives refused to discuss the responses. In short, the Auditor General is wasting public tax dollars to mount factually and legally false attacks on successful educational institutions like CCCS, all to further its own anti-charter political agenda.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. David Clark, CEO
Chester Community Charter School