Author: Susan L. DeJarnatt


Charter Management Organizations and the Need for Reform

Two recent audits and a guilty plea show strong evidence of the need for reform of Pennsylvania’s charter law to provide for more effective oversight of the substantial public money going to the charter sector.  The Inspector General of the US Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Auditor General have both recently concluded that Pennsylvania’s charter law does not provide sufficient oversight or control over charter management organizations. CMOs are organizations that manage charter schools. Although charter schools in Pennsylvania must be organized as non-profits, CMOs can be and often are for-profit organizations. The Pennsylvania charter law doesn’t mention them because the legislature apparently did not envision such entities in the late 1990s when it wrote the law. But they have become an increasingly important part of the charter sector. The two audits highlight challenges that the growth and operation of CMOs present to effective oversight of public funds going to charter schools. The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education found that “charter school relationships with CMOS posed a significant risk to Department …

Classroom Seats

Charting School Discipline

Exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. This research is examines the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia to consider the role of their disciplinary practices and the potential effects on charter students. We analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too …