Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Charters Sue White Hat

Another story I'm working on is the lawsuit launched by ten White Hat charters against the company. John Higgins at the ABJ does an excellent job of laying out the issues.

This arises from a law that mysteriously passed during the '06 lame duck session that essentially gives contract protection to education management organizations (EMOs) the for-profit corporations that are contracted to run many charter schools, and in some cases (such as White Hat) appear for all practical purposes to be one and the same as the charter school.

For example the White Hat website doesn't portray the company as a management company, but gives the impression that the company owns Hope Academies and Life Skills. On the website, those schools are called "ventures" of White Hat, as opposed to, say, clients.

As Plunderbund points out, White Hat founder David Brennan has been a leading contributor to Republican candidates, including the current top of the slate. The press release accompanying the lawsuit accuses White Hat of leveraging that political capital to get the sweetheart protection law.

This is actually the second time charters have sued to have the law overturned. So one thing I'm digging into is what happened the first time.

The EMO protection law is terrible for everyone involved -- for taxpayers, for students in charter schools, charter school advocates. Hopefully this lawsuit will finally shame the legislature into getting rid of it.