By The Numbers: DC’s Charter Board, Regulatory Capture Edition

Number of legally required elements that a March 2022 GAO report found that the DC public school charter board (PCSB) left off its 2021 annual report: 3 (out of 15)

Number of those elements that PCSB told GAO could be found on its website: 2 (annual summary of reasons for denying charter applications and description of charters issued annually)

Number of website addresses provided for those elements in PCSB’s annual report: 0

Reasons PCSB gave the GAO on why the number of schools with late financial statements was also not reported despite being required: focusing on actions taken, not tracking lateness, and council-enacted requirements may be out of date

Number of late charter school contracts >$25K reported to PCSB thus far in 2022 as a result of its “FY2020-21 clean-up process to bring the school into compliance”: 129 (Jan: 2; Feb: 11; March: 50; April: 58; May: 8)

Explanations of the “FY2020-21 clean-up process” I found in PCSB materials: 0

Number of PCSB websites I found that show each school’s annual total of >$25K contracts: 0

Number of PCSB websites that have monthly tallies of charter contracts >$25K by school for years before 2022: 1 (this website)

Number of PCSB websites with >$25K contracts for 2022: 5 (one for each monthly board meeting thus far this year)

Minimum number of PCSB websites one has to click to access a list of those 2022 contracts: 4 (click on a board meeting link; then click on meeting materials; then on the link for contracts >$25K; then click on “attachment A”)

Size of font on the websites listing those contracts: 3 point

Comments from GAO about how a 1% annual fee from charter LEAs to PCSB may incentivize approval of more LEAs: 0

Number of respondents PCSB reported to GAO for its 2021 survey on the performance management framework, which has been used as a basis for school closures: 118 (28 school leaders; 90 parents, guardians, and community members)

Audited number of students enrolled in DC charters in SY21-22: 44,899

Minutes into the April 2022 PCSB meeting when charter board member Jim Sandman characterized PCSB’s mystery caller program (to ensure open enrollment compliance) as “far too lenient” and “protective of schools and not adequately protective of parents” because it gives warning to schools ahead of time and then gives them multiple chances to do it right, while parents get only 1 chance to get correct information: 72

Minutes later that the PCSB executive director pushed back: 4

Amount of private seed money for PCSB chair Lea Crusey’s new venture, providing default insurance on student loans: $400,000

Public notices of recusal I found for Crusey casting votes on college preparatory charter high schools: 0

Public notices of recusal I found for any PCSB board member for any reason: 0

Number of charter LEAs examined by EmpowerEd for compliance with the Open Meetings Act (OMA): 68

Number of LEAs according to that analysis that did not have board meetings posted on their websites: 5

Number of places where charter schools can publicly post their board information: 2 (per March 1, 2022 email from PCSB’s Tomeika Bowden: either “a single location accessible by one click from the school’s homepage OR link to DC PCSB’s website” with school profiles)

Number of charter LEAs I counted on EmpowerEd’s spreadsheet that had links to join board meetings readily or obviously accessible on their websites: 22 (out of 68)

Days between the date I emailed PCSB that Eagle Academy wasn’t in compliance with the OMA and the date on materials about Eagle’s charter board posted on its PCSB school profile page: 5

Number of different dates for Eagle’s September 2021 board meeting in materials posted on the PCSB school profile website: 3 (Sept. 22, via SY21-22 1st quarter minutes (part 1); Sept. 12, via SY20-21 4th quarter minutes; and Sept. 8, via board meeting calendar for SY21-22)

Number of future board meetings I found for Rocketship posted on its website with distinct times listed: 0

Date I complained to the charter board that Rocketship had NO board materials for this entire school year posted on its PCSB school profile: March 1, 2022

Date of those materials now on Rocketship’s profile page on the PCSB website: February 25, 2022

Number of board meeting times and links/locations that I found posted for DC Bilingual board meetings at either its own website or the PCSB school profile: 0

Minutes into the May 22 PCSB meeting when board member Rick Cruz raised the possibility of PCSB’s lawyer helping the Mary McLeod Bethune charter school broker a deal for real estate: 15

Mentions of regulatory capture in the March 2022 GAO report: 0

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