Alison Yin for EdSource Today

As a result of a just released state audit, the California Department of Education says a network of virtual charter schools must refund nearly $2 million in improperly used state funds that were intended for implementation of the Common Core standards in English and math.

In addition, the department will require the schools to conduct a new audit of its average daily attendance records and a number of other actions.

“The California Department of Education is committed to ensuring public schools follow the laws and regulations that safeguard taxpayer funds,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “It’s critical that our students receive the resources they need to succeed.”

The nonprofit virtual charter network runs 11 schools known as California Virtual Academies, and three known as Insight Schools.  Together they are referred by the acronym CAVA.  The  schools  offer alternatives to “brick and mortar” schools, and allow students to get their assignments, complete the work, and to communicate with teachers online.  In some cases, they might communicate via telephone.

The auditors found that attendance records did not support the reimbursement the charter network received for  12 to 14 percent of the students who records were sampled during the audit (40 out of 289 students over a two year period).

The issue is far from settled, however.  In a statement,  school administrators  said that “CAVA schools properly spent all common core funds by June 30, 2015,” and that they will file an administrative appeal against the state’s demand that they should reimburse the funds.  They cited an independent auditor whom they said came from a state approved list and found that “the California Virtual Academies have fairly presented, in all material respects, the Common Core expenditures in the appropriate period.”

The state audit was conducted by auditors in the Office of the Controller, under the direction of State Controller Betty Yee, who concluded the following:

In many instances, students enrolling in one of CAVA’s virtual academies had done poorly or even failed in regular school settings before enrolling there.  A 2016 report by the Bay Area News Group found that less than half of CAVA’s high school students earned their diplomas, and very few met the requirements to enter the California State University or the University of California.

On the most recent administration of the Smarter Balanced tests, at most CAVA schools  the percentage of students who met or exceeded the standards were well below the state average.  In some cases they were higher.

To review CAVA and other test results go to EdSource’s Smarter Balanced data base here

This story was updated at 8 a.m. on Oct. 10 to include information received from CAVA officials. 

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  1. John Moore 2 months ago2 months ago

    I'm confused, we're they fined because of improper documentation of attendance and student progress or due to lackluster results in terms of the Smarter Balance assessments and graduation rates? If the latter is the case, then do low performing brick and mortar schools have to pay a fine too? I ask this because I worked at a public school where less than 20% of its students were at or near the standard for Math and less … Read More

    I’m confused, we’re they fined because of improper documentation of attendance and student progress or due to lackluster results in terms of the Smarter Balance assessments and graduation rates?

    If the latter is the case, then do low performing brick and mortar schools have to pay a fine too? I ask this because I worked at a public school where less than 20% of its students were at or near the standard for Math and less than 30% we’re at or near the standard for ELA. Graduation rates were near 90% though. Some of that was due to school admins pressuring teachers to pass seniors.

  2. Joan davidson 2 months ago2 months ago

    This investigation comes after the Attorney General sued and settled with them for $168million less than 2 years ago. Tell K-12,inc to find another way to make money and stay out of our public education system.

    Replies

    • Don 2 months ago2 months ago

      Maybe LAUSD should get out of public schooling, too. How much did they misallocate, $100 million or was it $200M? In another decade there won’t be much left of LAUSD what with students existing en masse for charters and privates, hopefully with vouchers by then.

  3. Bill Cirone 2 months ago2 months ago

    More proof of “fake news” that that competition and free markets can deliver education with greater quality and efficiency. Grandiose and inaccurate!