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Sun Jun 24, 2012, 01:22 PM

A Major Charter School Scandal (American Indian Public Charter Schools)

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/15/a-major-charter-school-scandal/

Interesting, I've read stories about Chavis for awhile and wondered when something like this would surface. 3.7 million dollars of public money.



The Los Angeles Times reported in 2009:

Not many schools in California recruit teachers with language like this: “We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply.”

<snip>

In response to whistle-blower complaints by parents and former teachers, the Oakland school board launched an independent audit of the charter’s finances. The audit reported that $3.7 million dollars were wrongly spent on businesses owned by Chavis and his wife. The audit, reported here, was bad news for Chavis’ reputation and for all those who hailed the magic of unregulated charters. Wrote the San Francisco Chronicle, “The founder and governing board of three controversial Oakland charter schools could face a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud, misappropriation of funds and other illegal activities outlined in an official audit report released Wednesday.”

With full knowledge that the audit was underway and was likely to raise questions about financial mismanagement, the Oakland Unified school board renewed Chavis’s charter only two months ago, by a vote of 4-3. The schools’ superintendent recommended against renewal, but the board majority decided that the ethical and financial issues of the school’s leaders should not prevent the school from getting a renewal, in light of its stellar test scores.

<snip>

In another interview, Chavis said that he preferred the Ku Klux Klan to teachers’ unions. Now we know why. It’s easier to fire compliant teachers when they have no representation.



It's Time to Close the American Indian Public Charter Schools

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/92510/archives/2012/06/18/its-time-to-close-the-american-indian-public-charter-schools



For the past decade Ben Chavis and his so-called American Indian Public Charter schools in Oakland have gotten away with egregious conduct that would be considered grossly unacceptable for any other school — because they have had high test scores. First, there was the revelation that Chavis routinely abused his students verbally, humiliating them in front of their classmates, to force them score higher on tests or quit the school altogether. Then came the news that Chavis had hurled racist and sexist comments at others in front of students, and that his schools had stopped serving American Indian children.

<snip>

But that’s not all. Earlier this year, a draft report by state auditors uncovered evidence that Chavis had engaged in fraud and was illegally pocketing taxpayer funds. Then last week, the Express reported that one of the schools' eye-popping test scores appear to be the product not of academic excellence. Instead, there's evidence that the school has been routinely cherry-picking top students from local elementary schools in violation of district regulations. At minimum, Chavis’ schools appear to be nothing more than a rigged system in which mostly high-scoring students apply to get in, are accepted, and then continue to score well on tests.










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Reply A Major Charter School Scandal (American Indian Public Charter Schools) (Original post)
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 OP
xchrom Jun 2012 #1
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2012 #2
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 #4
Tansy_Gold Jun 2012 #3
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 #5
RandySF Jun 2012 #6
mopinko Jun 2012 #7
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 #8
HankyDub Jul 2012 #9
Starry Messenger Jul 2012 #10

Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 01:36 PM

1. Du rec. Nt

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 02:50 PM

2. Because they have good test scores the abuse is ignored

That makes me ill.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 03:35 PM

4. This should be one of Bill Maher's "New Rules"

If Arnold Schwarzenegger calls someone an "education miracle", they should be subject to immediate and constant scrutiny.

This situation has been well-documented too. I remember reading articles in 2007 about what a bastard Chavis is. In fact, I thought the schools had already been shut down the last time he was embroiled in scandal. I was surprised to see that they were still open and this is what it took to finally get him.

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/too-hot-for-school/Content?oid=1083290



In a series of complaint letters, Sabrina Zirkel, a Mills College professor of education, and four of her graduate students, say Chavis repeatedly called Unity Lewis, a 25-year-old black Mills student, "a fucking black minority punk" during a recent visit to Chavis' middle school. They also claim that Chavis, after Lewis arrived fifteen minutes late, screamed that he was going to kick the grad student's ass, and called him a "worthless piece of shit."

The letters are signed by Zirkel, Lewis, Terry Pollack, Deborah Long, and Shrimathi Bathey. They allege that Chavis, who says he is an American Indian with some black heritage, also remarked to a white female Mills student: "You look like a mix breed." When the student responded that her ancestors came from throughout Europe, Chavis said, "Well, your people sure fucked around a lot." He also referred to his minority students as "darkies" and allegedly called a parent of one of his students a "prostitute."

Finally, the visitors said that during their March tour of American Indian Public Charter School, the principal asked one of his tenth-grade girls if a certain boy "was still trying to suck your titties." Zirkel said that after the girl whispered "no," and walked on, Chavis explained to his tour group that the girl had told him the boy "wanted to suck her titties." Chavis' visitors claim he then told them he had forced the boy to stand in front of his class while the principal announced that the boy wanted to ... well, you know.



How innovative. So glad we gave him an opportunity to pocket millions of taxpayer dollars.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 02:50 PM

3. I'm shocked, shocked

that there's fraud going on in charter schools.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 06:08 PM

5. He was pretty effing bold.

More details:

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_20850728/state-audit-finds-evidence-fraud-conflicts-interest-by



Between mid-2007 and the end of 2011, the school paid Chavis, his wife, Marsha Amador, and their various real estate and consulting businesses about $3.8 million, the auditors found. Many of those payments were made with state and federal facilities grants in the form of construction contracts to Chavis' companies -- business deals for school construction work that never went out to bid.

Meanwhile, the school's weak governing board did little to stand in the way, auditors found. For a short period of time last year, Chavis served on the board while he was employed as the organization's director and his wife was handling the books.

"The lack of due diligence and internal controls by the governing board has effectively granted the founder and his spouse unrestricted access to the assets of the organization and implied authority to enter into a variety of business arrangements for personal gain," the report stated.

Other findings included the opening and closing of bank accounts without approval and $25,700 in credit card purchases billed to the school with no authorization or apparent benefit to the school. They included airfare, restaurant, hotel and retail bills from out-of-state, including the North Carolina town where Chavis owns a farm; DirecTV; Giants tickets; and costs related to another venture, which foundered after the investigation became public -- the opening of a charter school in Arizona.

Chavis announced his retirement before the start of 2007-08 school year and returned to the school as director in 2011. He said at a recent hearing that he was a paid adviser during some of the time in between.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 07:19 PM

6. My personal feelings.

We, as a society should scrap charter schools. Public funds should be focused on improving public schools. If individuals want to bolster private alternatives, they should should help the parochial system which has a better proven track record among the world of private schools. Charters sound more and more like scams.

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Response to RandySF (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 10:14 PM

7. when charters are this hosed up, it's all good to shut them down.

when a public school is this hosed up, it's the epitome of evil to shut them down. till that changes, i am fine with the money following the student. but the financial playing field should be completely even.
and the parochial school "advantage" is mostly a mirage. especially these days. they used to be run by people who really cared. now they are pretty much hanging by a slim thread.

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Response to RandySF (Reply #6)

Mon Jun 25, 2012, 12:17 AM

8. I honestly like Shanker's original vision for them.

More like magnet schools, small and experimental, where teachers can be more hands on. But this could be done in the public system, if there were funding and political will.

However, they were very easily hi-jacked by finance companies via Education Management orgs. (and the right wing) in a mission to drain public funds into private purses.

As you say, public funds should be focused on improving public schools. If 3.8 million is floating around where a guy like Chavis can just snag it, then there is money for interesting pilot programs at public schools.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Wed Jul 4, 2012, 02:11 AM

9. Holy shit

 

I drive by one of these schools all the time. I wondered what the hell an "American Indian Charter School" was doing in Oakland.

I'm impressed...pretty good way to steal money.

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Response to HankyDub (Reply #9)

Wed Jul 4, 2012, 11:21 AM

10. It pisses me off that guys like this prey on the vulnerable communities too.

The whole thing stinks, but that's an extra layer of evil.

Meanwhile, they throw their political weight into movements to close public schools and break unions--so more money is diverted like this.

A Duer observed a couple of years ago that the new trend in profits was to find new ways to divert tax revenue into private hands. Public education is a big pot of money.

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