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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 30, 2017 04:54 PM
From: Representative James R. Roebuck, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Charter School Lease Payments
To ensure financial accountability for all public schools and protect Pennsylvania taxpayers, I am introducing legislation that would prohibit anyone who serves as a school director, founder, member of a board of trustees, or administrator of any public school entity -- including a school district, charter school or cyber charter school -- from receiving reimbursements on lease payments for buildings or facilities used for charter school. The prohibition would also include executives or employees of charter school management companies.

This legislation was first introduced last session in response to concerns raised about lease overpayments to charter schools. Since December 2012, the Department of the Auditor General has found that the Department of Education has approved and paid $1.8 million in lease reimbursements to seven charter schools despite questions about whether those reimbursements are permitted under the Public School Code and Department of Education guidelines -- specifically, that state lease reimbursements to charter schools are prohibited for facilities owned by individuals or entities related to the school. As recently as August 2016, the Auditor General highlighted more than $2.5 million in questionable lease reimbursement to nine charter schools.

The legislation will also require school officials, in their application for funding for lease reimbursements, to provide to the Department of Education a copy of the signed lease agreement for the leased building and a copy of the deed for the leased building.

Finally, the legislation will require the Department of Education to seek repayment from school entities for inappropriate lease reimbursements that were paid.

Introduced as HB1199