New legislation would force state auditor to audit charter schools
New legislation would force the state auditor to audit charter schools and be required to cover the cost.
State Rep. Kim Williams’ bill would allow the governor, agency heads and lawmakers to request charter school audits under certain circumstances.
It comes after Williams and other state lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to get State Auditor Kathy McGuiness to audit Odyssey Charter School. McGuiness said current law ties her hands, but offered to do one if the Department of Education pays for it. DOE requested one after allegations of misappropriation of funds and conflicts of interests. Odyssey is under formal review.
Williams disagrees with McGuiness that state law limits her ability to do the audit.
“We just want an audit, that’s it," she said. "And so the only way that I could get an audit is to write this bill. And obviously a lot of my colleagues agree with it because it’s a bipartisan bill.”
McGuiness said she was surprised to see the legislation.
"I look forward to Rep. Williams sitting down with me to draft the appropriate language, so we can find a reasonable solution and protect taxpayer dollars," she said.
Williams said she's concerned about a lack of charter school oversight and argues the public has a right to know what they do with taxpayer money.
“Our tax dollars to be used correctly, not to be used inappropriately," she said. "They’re not someone’s personal checkbook where they get to use the money as they like.”
Williams says she’s also aware of allegations involving the now closed Design Thinking Academy. A DOE spokeswoman confirms about $40,000 dollars from that school was diverted to a school board member’s company over four years. There’s also an allegation a federal grant application was falsified. McGuiness declined to comment on Design Thinking Academy.
DOE has not asked for an audit of Design Thinking Academy. Williams said she plans to - if her bill passes.