This is a list of pending and recent significant federal and state law enforcement investigations of, and actions against, for-profit colleges. It also includes some major investigations and disciplinary actions by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense. It does not include investigations or disciplinary actions by state education oversight boards. It also does not include lawsuits prosecuted only by private parties — students, staff, etc. To date, 37 state attorneys general are participating in a joint working group examining for-profit colleges, according to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of those are actively investigating specific for-profit colleges in their states.
As part of these accountability efforts, a growing number of states have enacted laws that require charter schools to close if they do not meet certain performance benchmarks. In states such as Ohio, these laws have sometimes been borne out of state lawmakers’ frustration that authorizers have not been making the tough decisions to close charter schools that have failed to meet the academic goals in their charter contracts. In other states, including Mississippi and Washingon, state lawmakers have enacted such provisions as more of a precautionary measure to ensure that as public charter schools open for the first time in these states, if there are under-performing charter schools, they will actually be closed. This document provides a brief description of existing state policies regarding the automatic closure of low-performing public charter schools. As of September 2015, 15 states had enacted such policies: Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississipi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
The Senate voted 25-19 Monday night to force traditional public schools to share more of their revenue with charter schools. The measure, House Bill 539, would restore to the list of funds that must be shared with charters many of the revenue sources that were exempted in 2010. … One of the funding sources that traditional schools would have to share with charters are indirect costs included in federal child nutrition grants. Those indirect costs – costs not directly incurred for food or preparation – can add up to millions of dollars in large districts. Traditional public schools are required by law to provide nutrition services – lunch and often breakfast – to their students. Charter schools are not required to provide nutrition services, and the bill does not require charters to use that money for nutrition purposes. … Tillman estimated the bill would result in about $11 million statewide being shifted from traditional public schools to charters …
Source: WRAL, September 21, 2015
A gut-and-amend bill unveiled in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday would make major changes to the law that dictates what revenue traditional schools do and do not have to share with charters. … That law, passed in 2010, allows local school districts to hold nine types of revenue out of the shared pot, which is known as the “local current expense fund.” One type of funding that can be held out is sales tax revenue that is distributed ad valorem, or according to property value, rather than per capita. Counties can choose whether to use the ad valorem or the per capita method to distribute local sales tax revenue to cities. If the county uses ad valorem, the school district could hold all of that money out of the shared pot. Like a bill passed in April by the Senate, the new version of House Bill 539 would force school districts to share all local tax revenue proportionally by striking the ad valorem exception. … Charters would also be entitled to a share of the “indirect costs” included in federal grant funding for nutrition and transportation programs, even though most charters do not provide school lunches or transportation. Grants for school technology would also have to be shared, even if they were written by and for a specific traditional school. … The legislation passed Senate Finance and is scheduled for a full Senate vote later this week. Its fate in the House is uncertain. The earlier version of the legislation, sent to the House April 30, was referred to the House Rules Committee and has not been heard since.
Columbus County emergency management officials plan to meet Thursday night with leaders of a rescue squad they claim is violating its county contract due to a high number of missed calls. Cerro Gordo Rescue missed 31 calls from the beginning of 2014 through July 24 of this year, according to a letter EMS Medical Director Joseph Dell’ARIA wrote county commissioners. … Cerro Gordo Rescue is expected to receive $67,237 this year from the county’s .02 rescue tax. …
A proposal that would privatize or close low-performing school systems in the state and take control away from local school districts is among the programs being considered by North Carolina lawmakers in the extended session. The low-performing school districts would be called Achievement School Districts. Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg County, is crafting the legislation. Supporters say the plan could help underperforming schools. Tennessee tried a similar model in 2012, and today the majority of schools in that program remain in the bottom five percent in terms of performance. … If the legislation is passed, the five underperforming school districts would be selected by Nov. 15 and the handoff could take place as early as the 2016-17 school year. Jewell said he is concerned about the loss of accountability if Achievement School Districts are put in place. …
House education proposal would dramatically hasten public school privatization
Source: Rob Schofield, N.C. Policy Watch, August 13, 2015
…the new public education proposal is a radical idea that was conceived in the world of conservative, market fundamentalist think tanks. Its two guiding premises: a) that traditional public schools are inherently flawed and incapable of meeting the needs of students and b) that the profit motive and the “genius” of market forces are what is needed to turn things around. The proposal would establish something known as “Achievement School Districts” though they are also sometimes referred to as “recovery school districts” and/or “turnaround schools.” … The basic idea is this: the state identifies a specified number of low performing schools and then takes control away from the local school districts in which they are located. The schools are then closed or turned into charter schools run by private entities. In the proposal percolating behind closed doors in the North Carolina House, the new Achievement School District would apparently be comprised of five schools selected from the bottom 25% of schools in the state. …
The War on North Carolina’s Public Schools
Source: James D. Hogan, forum.jamesdhogan.com, August 4, 2015
…But instead of demonstrating the quality of a school, the state’s new grading measure much more accurately described the socio-economic status of its enrolled students–nearly every one of the state’s “failing” schools were considered high-poverty schools. The state of Virginia, which also had an A-F rating system, got rid of the system because it was ineffective. No matter, though. It was perfect timing for the legislature’s next move: with this new “evidence” that North Carolina schools were failing in their mission, the state could move forward with its plan to grant parents options–freedom of choice was how the Republicans phrased it–and built a tuition voucher plan that sent tax dollars to parents who opted out of public schools and into private or religious schools. Despite another lawsuit, this time the legislature came out on top after a court upheld the practice. … But the legislature has also weakened oversight at public charters–introducing legislation this year to remove them from the Department of Public Instruction’s management altogether. The result is a diminished accountability for tax payer dollars spent in schools–the exact opposite of what the legislature said was important when it came to public schools originally. … The legislature then opened up the charter field to for-profit companies, many of which have terrible track records for effectiveness, and some of whom have benefited from zero-bid competition for state tax dollars. That’s right–our state government has maimed public schools so it can offer tax dollars to for-profit charters and private schools with totally inadequate government oversight from the same systems that declared public schools inadequate in the first place.
The sad news about allegations of abuse at the Guilford County Animal Shelter is disheartening in itself. But there is also a familiar pattern here – of a public-private partnership gone wrong for lack of openness. … But the bad news is a recurring problem with the public-private model in transparency and accountability:
1. The civil rights museum collecting financial documents at the end of board meetings and keeping those meetings closed to the public.
2. The performing arts center’s reluctance to release financial information in a clear and timely manner.
3. The nonprofit United Animal Coalition, which operates the Guilford County Animal Shelter, until very recently closing its meetings to the public, even as it gets more than $1.5 million a year in county tax money.
Guilford, Davidson County animal shelters involved in law enforcement investigation
Source: WXII12, August 7, 2015
Two Triad animal shelters are involved in an ongoing investigation into possible animal abuse and federal violations. Guilford County officials said Friday afternoon that a search warrant was served at the Davidson County Animal Shelter on July 23, and another search warrant was issued at the Guilford County Animal Shelter on July 30. Both shelters are run by a Greensboro-based nonprofit called the United Animal Coalition. Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips said the possible federal violations involve the DEA. … Phillips said that, for months, commissioners have received complaints alleging abuse, a toxic work environment and nepotism from current and former employees and volunteers at the shelters.
A garbage hauler facing a possible loss of its contract collecting waste for 35,000 Buncombe County households has expanded its operations nationally. Waste Pro USA, which is headquartered in Longwood, Florida, and operates in eight states, recently acquired three other garbage haulers, according to a release from the company. … Waste Pro took over the three companies over the last three months. They are:
• Waste Away Services, LLC, a full service hauling company serving about 1,850 customers in Elberton, Georgia.
• Henson Waste Disposal, which according to that company’s website is based in Canton. Henson was acquired in April.
• Liberty Waste Services, which was acquired in May and will be part of Waste Pro’s Charlotte operations.
…In Buncombe, customer complaints about missed collections have led local officials to look at terminating Waste Pro’s contract. The company is in the middle of its 10-year agreement with the county to haul residential waste.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the first round of investments in rural infrastructure projects through the U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund. Through the Fund and its expanded public-private partnerships, USDA has facilitated the investment of nearly $161 million in private capital 22 critical water and community facilities projects in 14 states… Investments include 11 community facilities projects in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin, including building new nursing homes, constructing new preschool and day care facilities, constructing a new facility for a rural ambulance service that covers a 685 square mile area in South Dakota, and building or upgrading two new critical access hospitals in rural Illinois and North Carolina. In addition, the Fund invested in 11 critical water projects in California, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. Projects include upgrades to existing water systems and the construction of a new reservoir. At least 38 additional critical infrastructure projects are in the pipeline for investment. …
As states struggle to build and renew their infrastructure assets, they are increasingly turning to the private sector for solutions. States like Virginia have used these so-called public-private partnerships (PPPs) for decades to collaborate with private firms to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain certain public infrastructure facilities. This procurement model was recently taken up for the first time by Ohio and North Carolina, with differing degrees of success. …. By balancing the risks between the public and private sectors, North Carolina’s I-77 HOT lanes have a good chance of becoming one of these success stories. While it is too early to tell if Ohio’s Veterans Memorial Highway will deliver on its vague promise of economic stimulus, it is clear that the structure of the PPP fails to shield taxpayers from many of the potential downsides of a project that delivers limited transportation benefits to the region. ….