The Missouri Charter Public Schools Association (MCPSA) fully supports Missouri State Auditor Thomas Schweich’s investigation into Hope Academy charter school. MCPSA is deeply concerned over allegations related to the school released this week by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
“Our Association takes very seriously any allegations of inappropriate conduct by a charter school,” stated MCPSA Executive Director Dr. Douglas Thaman. “We have been in contact with the Department, the board of Hope Academy and the sponsor to learn further details about these allegations and absolutely believe the seriousness of the conduct alleged warrants an investigation by the State Auditor.”
A Department press release, and letter to lawmakers, stated that they notified the school’s sponsor, the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC), on November 1 about concerns related to inflated attendance reporting, discrepancies in service learning reporting, academic integrity issue and low academic performance.
After learning of these allegations the board of Hope Academy placed administrators and other related staff on leave pending their own investigation by an independent external auditor. The Hope Academy Board met again this week to discuss these allegations and the independent investigation process.
“The school’s governing board should be commended for taking swift action, including placing the administrators on leave pending the independent, third party investigation,” added Thaman.
UMKC is also conducting an investigation into the Department’s allegations. Some of the academic integrity issues were discovered during the sponsor’s thorough review of the school’s academic performance as they consider renewing the school’s charter in February 2014. UMKC self reported these issue to the Department.
“Some of these findings came to light due to the sponsor’s review of the school’s academic performance. They made the appropriate choice by reporting their concerns to DESE,” stated Thaman.
Thaman also added, “By no means should these allegations reflect on any other charter school in Missouri. The vast majority of Missouri’s charter schools operate with integrity in academic and financial management and put the best interests of student education first.”
Other Kansas City charter school leaders reacted to the news as well.
“As charter school operators, we are given the opportunity to provide an education and in return for that opportunity, we must all abide by applicable laws and the quality standards set forth by our authorizer,” stated Tony Kline, Superintendent and Executive Director of University Academy. “UMKC has credibility and deserves the space and time required to investigate this matter and I’m confident their staff will make a sound judgment.”
“It is important to model integrity to the students we serve and show them the right way to do business,” added Danny Tipton, Superintendent of Hogan Prep Academy charter school.
The Missouri Charter Public School Association is prepared to aid the State Auditor and the sponsor in any way we can with their investigations.