Key Coverage

3 States Tried to Shutter Failing For-Profit Online Charter Schools. A Suspicious Pattern of Allegations, Accusations, and Legal Complaints Quickly Followed
The 74

On their face, the allegations describe public officials being bought — and for a pittance. Drinks in a hotel lobby. Airfare reimbursement for a meeting. A $4,000 “personal payment” appearing just before a mid-level functionary inks a government contract for the consultant offering the so-called perks.

Indeed, the legal complaints filed in South Carolina, Georgia, and Nevada have resulted in a string of juicy headlines. And later, though ostensibly unrelated, in the resignations of two of the state employees named.

But, as a 74 investigation has found, layer in context and identify patterns that emerge in each state, and it’s possible to paint a very different picture: The officials accused were all attempting to enforce rules that could shut down for-profit online-only charter schools that posted abysmal academic outcomes year after year. Truthful or not, the accusations succeeded in emboldening critics of those oversight efforts.