NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 29, 2004

Several scandals in school districts around the country have raised questions about whether public schools are being held accountable for fiscal mismanagement.

Investigations from California to Pennsylvania are finding widespread evidence of fraud, abuse and waste of public tax dollars:

  • Since 1991, California taxpayers have paid almost $220 million to bail out seven public school districts because of financial mismanagement and fraud.
  • In Harrisburg, Penn., a teacher discovered that 1,000 laptop computers purchased with federal grants had never been delivered -- the FBI later linked top district officials to a $1.9 million kickback scheme.
  • The Chicago public schools have more than $5 million in federally-financed computer equipment sitting in warehouses.

While school voucher programs are held strictly accountable for their use of public tax dollars, cases of fraud, embezzlement, and other financial crimes in public schools have gone largely unnoticed in the national media.

Any school, private or public, that is supported by public tax dollars should meet strict financial standards and should be punished or shut down if violations of those standards are discovered, says Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation in Los Angeles.

Source: Lisa Snell, "Scandals Prevalent in Public Schools," School Reform News, Heartland Institute, June 2004.


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