In response to a carefully researched, in-depth report published in The Record concerning the potential misuse of public dollars by New Jersey charter schools, education advocacy and civil rights groups are calling on Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to establish a joint oversight committee to conduct a full and thorough investigation.
In a letter sent today to the legislative leaders, the organizations request a joint oversight committee be authorized to investigate the improper practices surfaced in The Record’s reporting, including the misuse of public funds in the rental, leasing or purchase of charter school facilities. The letter also asks that the committee investigate the practices of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) in providing over $800 million in taxpayer-backed bonds to finance charter land and building acquisitions. Finally, the committee should thoroughly examine failures of the EDA and the New Jersey Department of Education to provide proper oversight over all aspects of the charter school program.
The organizations are requesting that the oversight committee hold public hearings, call witnesses and issue a full report of all findings. The committee should recommend both administrative and legislative reforms and improvements to charter school operations to ensure proper use of taxpayer dollars.
“We applaud The Record reporters for their exhaustive and in-depth reporting. They’ve provided an invaluable service to New Jersey taxpayers, families and public education supporters,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director. “The report raises complex and serious questions and concerns surrounding charter school real estate and other practices that warrant investigation and a plan for necessary corrective reforms.”
The letter also notes the years-long underfunding of the state’s public schools and the need for additional resources for school facilities projects as added reasons for accountability and transparency in the use of public funds for education.
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