Lack of Charter School Oversight is No Joke

Are you kidding me?Question: How many Montessori Peaks Charter Academy Board Members does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None. They prefer to do their business in the dark…

All jokes aside, it is important to remember that when a new charter school is created, we are also creating a new government entity. The governing board of each charter school is a local public body, and in effect a new board of education. Before the Board of Education for Jefferson County Public Schools considers creating another government entity, the existing track record of oversight for these government agencies should be examined. A shining example of a charter school gone wrong is Montessori Peaks Charter Academy.

It has been presented at several of the Jeffco Board of Education meetings that the Montessori Peaks Academy Principal Char Weaver, has hired board members and relatives to work for her at the school. It does not take a genius to know that hiring your own supervisors is a bad thing.

After numerous violation reports of both policy and law to Jeffco, specifically Charter School Achievement Director Tim Matlick and being received with inaction, an independent investigation was launched by Jeffco citizens to look into the offenses occurring at Montessori Peaks Charter Academy. The concerns were sparked by the abuse of a school family by staff and Board members at Montessori Peaks Academy, then fueled by wild cover-ups and a disturbing pattern of a complete lack of responsible oversight.

The Montessori Peaks Investigation Report can be viewed in its entirety by downloading the PDF here.

The report uncovers not only policy violations, but also actual violations of law, as described in the meeting minutes from Montessori Peaks Board of Directors. These official records of actions were recorded, written, reviewed, and voted upon by their own Board of Directors. They show clear violations regarding nepotism, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, electioneering, illegal closed-door sessions, and much more.

An inaccuracy that should be reported before reading this investigation is the information regarding Jeffco’s conflict of interest policy GP-09 and the waiver granted to Montessori Peaks Academy. At the time of the initial investigation, Achievement Director Tim Matlick, in either an attempt to cover up or just plain incompetence, told the investigators that Montessori Peaks Academy was the ONLY charter school to have a waiver to conflict of interest. As you will read later, this disturbing waiver is actually a widespread matter of contract for Jeffco charter schools.

What did the long time charter school principal turned Achievement Director Mr. Matlick do with the investigation report? He wrote a few questions and presented them to Montessori Peaks Academy. To summarize, Mr. Matlick asked if Montessori Peaks felt they did anything wrong or illegal. You can simply guess at their response.

Jeffco and Mr. Matlick have conducted no further inquiries into the disturbing behavior of Principal Char Weaver, Montessori Peaks Academy staff members, or this charter school’s Board of Directors. By ignoring the importance of these illegal actions, Jeffco has taken the stance that charter schools within their district are authorized to hire their own board members, engage in electioneering, and so much more, despite laws to the contrary. Again, it doesn’t take a genius to know this is wrong.

Further evidence of Jeffco’s stance on authorizing conflicts of interest for charter schools is apparent in the fact that Jeffco has inserted into every charter school contract, a waiver from conflicts of interest regarding their governing boards. Section 8.3 of every available charter school contract states that conflicts of interest shall be waived regarding district policies so that staff can serve on charter school boards. However, Jeffco’s authority is limited to their own policies and in no way excuses the violations of law that hiring on a board member has on their non-profit 501(c)(3) or government entity status.

What is the Jefferson County Board willing to do in order to re-evaluate Montessori Peaks Academy, and the other charter schools, before potentially creating new problems? Without oversight, citizens are forced to find other means to achieve responsible oversight for these local public bodies. How much money is Jeffco and Tim Matlick willing to take from students when Montessori Peaks Academy, or other charter schools, are taken to court over their illegal actions?

So the question is, will there even be enough money left to pay the electric bill for the other schools who want to teach with the lights on?

Posted in Charter Info, Charter School Law, Jeffco, Montessori Peaks Academy, Open Meetings Law Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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