Interesting report here in New York Times about private control of charter schools, with a focus on one particular operator. They become essentially publicly-funded private schools. One more reminder that just because something bears the label "charter school" it doesn't automatically follow that it's a superior creature, particularly if you value public control and oversight of public dollars.
Because public money is used, most states grant charters to run such schools only to nonprofit groups with the expectation that they will exercise the same independent oversight that public school boards do. Some are run locally. Some bring in nonprofit management chains. And a number use commercial management companies like Imagine.
But regulators in some states have found that Imagine has elbowed the charter holders out of virtually all school decision making — hiring and firing principals and staff members, controlling and profiting from school real estate, and retaining fees under contracts that often guarantee Imagine’s management in perpetuity.