California Legislature Puts Profits Over Students

The charter school industry successfully lobbies against efforts to prevent another $50 million theft of scarce education funds.

Carl J. Petersen
Age of Awareness
Published in
4 min readJun 5, 2021

“People v. McManus revealed many weaknesses in the State’s education system in the areas of fraud enforcement, student data tracking, auditing, school finance, and oversight of charter schools.”

- Summer Stephan, San Diego District Attorney

When San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan indicted 11 people associated with the A3 Education for running a “criminal enterprise [that] funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into private bank accounts”, he exposed gaping holes in the laws controlling the oversight of publicly funded charter schools. As detailed in a letter he sent to the California State Assembly’s education committee, this left the government vulnerable to fraud in the following ways:

  • “The State does not monitor the money that goes for each student’s education.
  • Government regulators rely on auditors to confirm the accuracy of attendance and expenditures at all public schools, but for charter schools, the auditors work in an at-will capacity and lack the tools, knowledge, and authority to find fraud if it is occurring.
  • Government regulators do not monitor individual student attendance at charter schools and are currently paying out more than one ADA [Average Daily Attendance, the mechanism by which California schools are funded] per student in many cases without knowing they are doing so.
  • The CDE (California Department of Education) has no authority to investigate potential fraud and needs the ability to do so. Only a rare DA’s office has the resources to do so.”

As proposed, AB1316 would have addressed many of these issues and protected California students from having their scarce education dollars stolen by unseemly charter school operators. Its provisions would have created an Inspector General in the Department of Education and “new auditing and accounting standards to create parity between school districts and charter schools.“ Non-classroom-based charter schools would…



Carl J. Petersen
Age of Awareness

Parent, special education advocate and former LAUSD School Board candidate. Still fighting for the children. www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com