Philadelphia/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 08, 2024
Auditor General's Report Praises Philadelphia Charter School Office, Suggests Further EnhancementsSource: Google Street View

Some much-needed good news for the School District of Philadelphia's Charter School Office, as Auditor General Timothy L. DeFoor's latest performance audit finds it ticking nearly all the right boxes in managing charter school applications and monitoring. Although the framework is effective in following state law and guidance, recommendations have been made to keep the ball rolling smoothly.

"There is a lot of good news to share," said Auditor General DeFoor, as per the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General. "My job is to look at how tax dollars are being spent and determine if the systems created to use them are working. In this case, while the system is working, there are things that can be done better." Among the improvements suggested, the audit advises bringing external reviewers on board to provide a fresh perspective on the charter school review process.

Additionally, according to the official audit report, the auditor suggested including the charter schools' responses in the public reports on annual monitoring and renewal and conducting admission lottery audits. This latter point follows an incident involving Franklin Towne Charter High School, which was allegedly cherry-picking students by excluding zip codes predominantly occupied by minority households.

"During our review, we noted a charter school, Franklin Towne Charter High School, allegedly conducted its admissions lottery to exclude certain city zip codes made up of predominately minority households," Auditor General DeFoor stated, per the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General. Upon review, the Charter School Office quickly identified the infraction, demonstrating that stricter oversight could lead to earlier detection of such violations. The audit noted that all findings from the prior 2016 audit have been resolved, showing progression in the right direction.

While no new charters were approved during the audit period, the reported measures have been introduced as part of a broader reform under the DeFoor Administration to enhance performance audits of school entities and improve transparency and accountability for the spending of taxpayers' funds.