INTRODUCTION

Legislation authorizing the establishment of public charter schools in Massachusetts was enacted in 1993 as Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 71, Section 89 and subsequently amended in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. Chapter 46 of the Acts of 1997, which amended the charter school law, directed the Office of the Inspector General to conduct a study of operations, practices, and activities at the established charter schools in the Commonwealth. In conducting this review, the Office reviewed records obtained from the Department of Education (DOE) as well as from the 24 charter schools in the scope of this review. The Office also conducted interviews with officials of the DOE's charter school office. The Office appreciates the DOE's assistance and cooperation during the course of this review.

This report focuses on the business operations of the 24 charter schools in this review. The report findings highlight weaknesses that could undermine charter schools' ability to achieve their educational objectives and jeopardize the interests of state taxpayers, whose dollars fund charter schools. The report recommendations are aimed at strengthening the Massachusetts charter school initiative, increasing charter school accountability, and protecting the public's investment in charter schools.