Arizona is a leader in the school choice movement, and that generally is a good thing, especially in seeing the record of traditional schools in some states while dealing with the pandemic. But Arizona’s charter schools could use more regulation, although most are well run and popular in attracting students.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has been active in reining in charters that go astray, which is a needed service. Of course, other schools in rare circumstances have those problems too.
Last month Brnovich announced that a state grand jury had indicted Incito Schools and two co-founders in what allegedly was a fraud scheme in 2016-17 involving half a million dollars. April Black and Amanda Jelleson run K-8 schools in Phoenix and Goodyear. They allegedly provided false documents including paystubs to obtain grant funds, which were not given to teachers.
Brnovich, a second-term Republican, earlier got convictions of three executives of the defunct Discovery Creemos Academy in Goodyear for defrauding taxpayers of $2.5 million in an enrollment scheme. They all are headed to do time behind bars.
The Attorney General’s Office obtained a $180,000 civil settlement with a couple who operate San Tan Montessori School Inc., which has two charter schools in Gilbert. They had used public funds on personal expenses, including tickets to sporting events.
Arizona has more than 500 charter schools, which are privately owned but receive public funds for operation and to educate students who don’t pay tuition. The state has a board that oversees the schools, but it should have more control. And the state is not known as well as some others for charters’ benefit to disadvantaged students, which is an issue that should be explored.
Brnovich has been aggressive in pursuing wrongdoing. Also to his credit, he has been critical of the lack of regulation. Unfortunately, employees of government-owned schools and other governmental units occasionally face charges for wrongdoing as well. That is why we have auditors and laws. However, most people have a governing sense of doing the right thing.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.