By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A coalition of community and parents’ groups charges that no one is adequately monitoring the charter schools in Philadelphia.

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Now, they have brought their complaints to the doorsteps of the Pennsylvania attorney general and the School Reform Commission.

The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (“PCAPS”) and Action United say the state’s oversight of charters is neither effective at detecting fraud nor at preventing it.

The protesters pointed to a 20-page report released in September alleging that charter school officials have defrauded at least $30 million intended for Pennsylvania school children since 1997.

Kia Philpot Hinton, who has children in both Philadelphia public and charter schools, says her group sent letters seven weeks ago to 62 charter schools and networks, requesting right-to-know information.  And while half returned written replies, she says, they’ve heard nothing from the rest.

“Only four charter schools have sent us their fraud prevention or internal controls policy,” she told the crowd gathered this morning outside the Philadelphia office of Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane.  “None have ever conducted fraud risk assessments.”
They want Kane’s office, charged with regulating nonprofit groups in the commonwealth, to step in.

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Activists were also requesting that the School Reform Commission tighten its regulatory processes for charters, saying that two auditors for the entire school district — including 86 charter schools — aren’t enough.

PCAPS and Action United then headed to 440 North Broad Street, where the Philadelphia school district is headquatered, just as the SRC begins a process of sifting a flood of 40 applications for new charters.  The activists say there should be a moratorium on new charter schools until a better oversight structure is in place.

The SRC hasn’t approved a new charter in seven years.


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