Au­dit faults state’s largest on­line char­ter school

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - The Associated Press

Poor gov­er­nance and fi­nan­cial con­flicts of in­ter­est have plagued Penn­syl­va­nia’s largest on­line char­ter school, which col­lects tens of mil­lions of dol­lars from nearly ev­ery school district in the state, a state au­dit found.

The per­for­mance au­dit, re­leased Thursday by Au­di­tor Gen­eral Eu­gene DePasquale, found the Penn­syl­va­nia Cy­ber Char­ter School in Mid­land, Beaver County, failed to pro­vided ad­e­quate over­sight of busi­ness deal­ings in­volv­ing Nick Trom­betta, the founder and CEO, who is due to be sen­tenced in Novem­ber on a fed­eral tax con­spir­acy charge.

“In the case of PA Cy­ber Char­ter School, pub­licly elected school boards from nearly ev­ery school district in the state are send­ing state and lo­cal tax dol­lars to the cy­ber school with zero in­put and ac­count­abil­ity,” said DePasquale, who used the au­dit to call for re­forms of the state’s char­ter school law, which he called the worst in the na­tion.

Trom­betta cre­ated a num­ber of en­ti­ties that pro­vided ser­vices to the school, and “took ad­van­tage of ev­ery flaw in the law to get rich off the backs of stu­dents and tax­pay­ers,” DePasquale said.

Trom­betta left the school in 2012, and Penn­syl­va­nia Cy­ber dis­puted many of the find­ings in its re­sponse to the au­dit. Brian Hay­den, PA Cy­ber’s board pres­i­dent, said the school has worked to change how it op­er­ates.

“This isn’t the same or­ga­ni­za­tion as it was un­der Nick Trom­betta. It is not,” Hay­den told the Beaver County Times. “We’re learn­ing. We’re try­ing, and we’re re­ally com­mit­ted to mov­ing away from those bad prac­tices.”

The on­line school en­rolls nearly 10,000 stu­dents statewide.

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