Why Are Government Employees Accepting Payments From Special Interests?
Do you know who sets the rules for charter schools in your state? In some states the authorities contract some of that responsibility to a national organization called NACSA, and a recent news article shows that NACSA may have more influence over government officials than you might think.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently publishe d an article outlining unreported payments, and the offer of payments, from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) to employees of Georgia’s State Charter School Commission. These unreported payments violate state law.
NACSA works with charter school authorizers across the country, recommending policies that directly impact schools. The Georgia State Charter School Commission authorizes and renews the state’s public charter schools, including virtual schools.
NACSA has openly pushed policies in several states that would result in the closure of virtual schools, taking away the choice of thousands of students and families across the country.
This article should raise an alarm bell for parents. Policy should be advanced with good ideas; bureaucrats and policymakers should not be subject to outside influence.
KEY EXCERPTS FROM THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION STORY:
“Georgia’s inspector general has been asked to look into whether a group that did work for the Charter Schools Commission violated state law by not reporting that it paid for staffers to attend events across the country and offered them stipends.
“The complaint says the Chicago nonprofit — the National Association of Charter School Authorizers — could wind up being prohibited from doing business with the state for a year and forced to repay what it received from the State Charter Schools Commission if it did not file the financial statement.
“The AJC reported earlier this month that the association has been paid $264,000 since early 2015 to help review charter petitions and applications, for consulting services, and other duties.
“According to agency emails reviewed by the AJC, the association has offered to pay Bonnie Holliday, the commission’s director, and other senior staffers for them to attend conferences and group events since at least 2015.
“On the day a consulting contract was being finalized in June 2017, the association offered Stevens $1,000 as a “consulting stipend” and travel reimbursement to speak at a conference. Stevens turned down the payment.
“Records show the association offered Holliday a $1,000 “consulting/facilitating fee” in 2017 for a conference in Phoenix. She accepted the stipend.
“Under Georgia law, “No public officer other than a public officer elected state wideshall accept a monetary fee or honorarium in excess of $100 for a speaking engagement, participation in a seminar, discussion panel, or other activity which directly relates to the official duties of that public officer or the office of that public officer.”