Despite the well intended safeguards put in place through the Colorado Charter Schools Act (C.R.S. 22-30.5-104), and other legal requirements for education providers to provide the public with transparent access to their financial information, a recent report demonstrates some of the gaping holes in Colorado’s charter school oversight. According to the Center for Popular Democracy report, Denver School of Science & Technology Public Scools (DSST), one of Colorado’s largest charter school networks, payed $20 to $50 million dollars to a for-profit corporation owned by two of DSST’s founding directors.
The sparsity of details and public disclosure of these payments raise more than eyebrows when it comes to how public charter schools are spending tax money. The report describes that, in response to an open records request, Denver Public Schools claimed they have no documentation relating to how these public funds were spent by the for-profit corporation after passing through DSST.
Concerns outlining DSST come in addition to the recent conflict of interest concerns at Jefferson County Public Schools charter school, Montessori Peaks Academy (MPA). The ongoing investigation of MPA includes troubling allegations that MPA’s former Principal, Charlotta Weaver, hired governing board members to work for her at the school. MPA is also currently involved in a lawsuit regarding potential violations of Colorado’s Open Meeting Laws.