Saturday, December 08, 2007

Documents? We Don't Need No Stinking Documents!

As NYC Educator posted yesterday, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found in an audit that the KIPP Academy Charter School in the Bronx paid nearly $70,000 dollars for staff development trips to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.

KIPPsters claim donated private funds were used for the overseas staff development trips but according to the report "auditors could not determine if this was the case because donated funds were not accounted for separately from state aid."

Lack of documentation seems to be a chronic problem with the KIPP Academy. The state audit also found the following deficiencies:

* lack of documentation of criminal background checks for seven employees at the school;
* an unclear policy regarding the competitive bidding process that resulted in the awarding of four contracts totaling in $181,584 without the benefit of competition;
* no written policies and procedures to determine and approve salary increases;
* missing or incomplete overtime records;
* no system to track employees’ sick or personal leave accruals; and
* no written policies and procedures or Board approval for employee bonus and stipend pay.

Notice how the KIPPsters just can't seem to provide much documentation for how they hire people, what kind of criminal background checks they do on hirees, how they pay them, how they dole out bonuses, how they dole out no-bid contracts or how they track sicktime/overtime.

Apparently the KIPP Academy Charter School in the Bronx, supported by free-market proponents who want to privatize public education in order to bring the efficiencies of the free market to the public education sphere, have taken the whole free enterprise thing to heart and are running the school with "Enron-style accounting."

You remember Enron-style accounting. That's where business CEOs and boards lie, cheat and steal from stockholders/customers all the while living high off the hog on their ill-gotten largess. You keep the documentation to a minimum, put all the bad stuff "off the books" so that regulators don't see it and have another drink on the poor suckers who don't know any better.

Currently Enron-style accounting is back in the news because many financial institutions like Citigroup, Wachovia, WaMu, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bear Sterns and Merrill Lynch are using the "off the books" documentation method to avoid having to list billions of dollars of losses they've taken in the mortgage mess.

Apparently the post-Enron, post-Tyco, Post-WorldCom, post-Adelphia regulation that free marketers are always complaining about (Sarbanes-Oxley) didn't actually take care of the fuzzy documentation problem on Wall Street. Eventually these venerated financial institutions will probably have to acknowledge they've lost billions, but for now they play a game of hide and seek with the losses.

And KIPPsters, backed by Wall Street CEOs and hedge fund managers who have created and/or enabled this fuzzy documentation environment where truth is held off the books and money losses do not become real until you acknowledge them, have learned their lessons well from their free market masters.

Keep the bad stuff off the books. Keep as little documentation as possible. Complain about regulation. Shrug when regulators come and ask for the documentation. Extol the free market. Continue to hand out the no-bid, no-competition contracts. And most importantly, cheat the poor suckers who are providing you with the money for your operations.

POSTSCRIPT: One of the more disturbing findings in the audit is that the KIPP Academy couldn't provide documentation for the criminal background checks of seven employees.

The school lists 25 employees on its website, so they couldn't provide auditors with criminal background check documentation for 28% of the staff!

I don't know about you, but in this day and age I don't think I'd want to send my kid to a school where they don't know if the math teacher is an upstanding citizen or a felon.

Apparently the boys and girls running KIPP don't have the same concerns.
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