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NCLB Outrages

Bronx charter school spent thousands on staff retreats, audit shows

Ohanian Comment: NCLB calls for school restructuring when a school fails to meet its AYP. That means Dump current staff and bring in charters. Charters receive public funds to operate the way they want to. . . including reflection sessions in the Bahamas.

But lavish travel is not limited to the staff. Here is what the school lists under field trips:

n the spring of academic each year, KIPPsters who meet certain academic and behavioral standards participate in end-of-year field trips. These trips take students to places far removed from the day-to-day life of the Bronx and offer them views of the world they might not encounter otherwise. In addition, these trips entail academic components that build upon themes and subject areas that students have been studying during the year. For example:

5th Grade: Students travel to Washington, DC, to get a real-life glimpse into American politics and visit sites of historical interest.

6th Grade: Students fly to Utah, where they camp and hike in Bryce and Zion Canyons while engaging in a hands-on extension of their earth science and geology curriculum.

7th Grade: Students travel to Massachusetts to continue their studies in American colonial history and tour top-ranked private high schools and universities.

8th Grade: Students travel to California to visit historic sites and universities.

When I taught in the Queens borough of New York City, my students thought it was pretty nifty to go on a field trip to the Bronx.

By Carrie Melago

A Bronx charter school spent nearly $68,000 on "staff development" retreats in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, a scathing new audit shows.

Although officials at the KIPP Academy Charter School insist the trips were educational and paid for by private donations, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli said his office couldn't verify the claims because of sloppy bookkeeping. DiNapoli questioned why the high-achieving school - part of a national franchise - would splurge on trips to the Caribbean.

"Money intended for education should be spent on education," DiNapoli said. "There are lots of places for retreats right here in New York State that are closer to the Bronx than the Bahamas."
In June of 2005, KIPP sent 21 staffers to the town of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, at a price of $1,119 per person. In June 2006, 49 employees stayed at the Radisson Cable Beach in Nassau, the Bahamas, for $907 a head, the audit stated.

When approached by auditors, KIPP officials said the retreats were educational and provided agendas that listed "reflection sessions" and "solutions conversations" during the trips, along with reading lists.

KIPP Superintendent David Levin said public dollars weren't used to pay for the trip and said the school implemented all the controller's recommendations for keeping private and public money separate.

— Carrie Melago
New York Daily News


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