A Network for Public Education report detailing how more than $500 million in federal money was misspent on charter schools that never opened is getting a lot of attention.
Published earlier this month, the report, titled “Still Asleep at the Wheel,” found that between 2006 and 2014, 35 percent of charter schools that received money from the federal Charter School Program (CSP) either never opened or were shut down.
The Network for Public Education reviewed records of nearly 5,000 schools. The researchers found 537 schools “ghost schools” that never opened but received more than $45.5 million in federal start up money.
Michigan, where 72 charters received $7.7 million in start up money but never opened, was the worst offender followed by California with 61 schools received $8.36 million but failed to open.
The researchers said it’s impossible to document total waste in CSP over the 25 years its operated because the U.S Department of Education never required states to report the name of funded schools until 2006.
They estimate that $1.17 billion in federal money has likely been spent on charters that either never opened or that opened and have since shut down.
In North Carolina, 48 schools reportedly received CSP money. Nine are now listed as defunct after receiving $4.4 million.
Between 1995 and 2017, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $3.9 billion dollars to states, charter management organizations, or directly to charter developers for the purpose of providing start-up or expansion funds to charter.