Aug. 16--What began as a complaint from a couple of moms more than 18 months ago has mushroomed into a widening federal investigation of at least five Philadelphia-area charter schools, calling into question spending controls and management oversight in this burgeoning alternative to traditional public schools.
Federal authorities are adding resources to the probe, and people familiar with the matter say New Media Technology Charter School, which has campuses in the city's Stenton and Germantown neighborhoods, is the latest charter targeted for spending irregularities and conflicts of interest.
The probe began last year at the Philadelphia Academy Charter School in the Northeast and has led investigators to Germantown Settlement Charter School in Germantown, Northwood Academy in the Northeast, and the Agora Cyber Charter School in Devon, which provides online instruction to the homes of 4,400 students statewide…
In Germantown, authorities are trying to determine whether the charter school diverted some of the $31 million in taxpayer money it received over nine years to prop up other nonprofits operated by its sponsor, Germantown Settlement.
The school closed in June after the School Reform Commission denied it a new operating charter because of financial mismanagement and poor academics…
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OFF THE CHARTS: CHARTER-SCHOOL PROBES EXPAND, August 16, 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer