Friday, February 21, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, June 19, 2016
Charter School Corruption Mirrors State Government
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:01 AM :: 2551 Views :: Education K-12

Public Charter Schools

by Tom Yamachika, President Tax Foundation Hawaii

Many of us have heard about “charter schools” here in Hawaii. Charter schools present an alternative to regular public schools under the state Department of Education (DOE), in that they have the freedom to teach students using their own systems and processes, rather than the ones developed by the DOE. Charter schools can be organized around certain themes, such as Hawaiian immersion, or they could be conventional schools in underserved places. A charter school has operational autonomy over a number of areas, including governance, design and delivery of its academic plan, school management and operations, and, of course, finances.

In some states or countries, charter schools are independent from the government, and could be nonprofit or for-profit organizations. In Hawaii, they are effectively state agencies. They are governed by independent governing boards, but are accountable to the State Public Charter School Commission (SPCSC), which in turn reports to the elected Board of Education. Their employees are members of the HSTA, HGEA, or UPW like employees of DOE schools. They are public schools, so they cannot charge tuition and must take all comers, including special needs children, as long as they have space. They are required to participate in statewide educational assessments (i.e., standardized testing) just like DOE schools. They receive per-pupil funding of public money for their students.

SPCSC, as the regulatory agency over the charter schools, enters into a detailed contract with each charter school that specifies measures of accountability. If the school doesn’t meet them, SPCSC can require the school to take corrective action, fire all or part of the school’s governing board, or even shut down the school.

If a school is shut down leaving debts, the responsibility for those debts falls upon the State, namely taxpayers.

In December 2015, the State Auditor released Report No. 15-14, Study of Charter Schools’ Governing Boards in the wake of the failure of Halau Lokahi New Century Public Charter School, the first in Hawaii to have its charter revoked (an earlier attempted revocation of a charter was reversed by the courts). The report observed that the financial information that Halau Lokahi submitted contained lots of red flags, but concluded that SPCSC didn’t sound the alarm quickly enough because of staff inexperience and human error. Specifically, the auditor found that Halau Lokahi’s financial report for the first quarter of 2013 showed more than half of its projected funding (for the whole year) was already spent or obligated. The second quarter report showed unpaid expenses exceeding cash. The school’s financial condition went downhill from there. The school’s charter was finally revoked at the end of March 2015.

In its response to the report, the SPCSC described a very human but less than constructive reaction to its staff’s efforts. Some charter schools didn’t want to be bothered with red tape, saying that SPCSC oversight violates the autonomy that the law gives them. Sometimes the schools didn’t want to cooperate with the SPCSC and sometimes they were openly hostile.

In a way, the charter school microcosm mirrors state government in general. Many agencies relish the ability to spend public money with little or no accountability. This, however, is not prudent fiscal policy. Any recipient of public money should be clear and transparent about how the money is spent, and if the recipient is doing something wrong, the recipient should be called on the carpet until the problem is fixed. It may be inconvenient, but oversight is necessary. Otherwise, we taxpayers may have to clean up a much larger mess later.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii