Charter schools misspend millions of Ohio tax dollars as efforts to police them are privatized

No sector — not local governments, school districts, court systems, public universities or hospitals — misspends tax dollars like charter schools in Ohio.

A Beacon Journal review of 4,263 audits released last year by State Auditor Dave Yost’s office indicates charter schools misspend public money nearly four times more often than any other type of taxpayer-funded agency.

Since 2001, state auditors have uncovered $27.3 million improperly spent by charter schools, many run by for-profit companies, enrolling thousands of children and producing academic results that rival .

And the extent of the misspending could be far higher.

That’s because Yost and his predecessors, unable to audit all charter schools with limited staffing and overwhelmed by the dramatic growth in the schools, have farmed out most charter-school audits to private accounting firms.

Last year, these private firms found misspending in one of the 200 audits of charter schools they conducted, or half of 1 percent, while the state’s own police force of auditors found misspending in one of six audits, or 17 percent of the time.

“You don’t even have to understand audits to know that something is broken there,” said Kyle Serrette, director of Education at the Center for Popular Democracy.

(Read more at the Akron Beacon Journal)