Florida Charter School Fraud Lawyer
Charter schools are relatively new educational options, but their flexibility and efficiency have made these institutions one of the fastest-growing school choice options in Florida. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) reports that enrollment has reached almost 342,000 students at the 687 charter schools statewide. Part of the attraction for parents is that these institutions are subject to a different set of rules than traditional public schools, but this feature can also be problematic. The nature of their independence means government scrutiny is somewhat loose, often resulting in charter school fraud.
If you have information related to misconduct by a charter school, it is important to understand your legal remedies under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA). Our Guttman, Freidin & Celler lawyers can explain in detail, since you may qualify to obtain a monetary award for your efforts. Please contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a Florida education fraud attorney, and check out some general information about charter school fraud.
How Charter School Operations Constitute Fraud
Charter schools are publicly funded, but they are not subject to the full range of Florida education laws. Instead, they are founded by teachers, parents, or advocacy groups, and are governed by the charter terms of a local or national authority. These charter standards involve increased performance accountability, but charter schools still enjoy a great amount of independence and flexibility.
As a result of this arrangement, there is a heightened potential for fraud in charter schools. In general, fraud involves the use of deception to gain something of value. False or misleading statements by these institutions bring more students – and taxpayer dollars – in the door. Common charter school fraud schemes include:
- Tampering with enrollment numbers;
- Making false statements when reporting academic monitoring; and
- Establishing “ghost” schools, which receive taxpayer funds but never actually open.
FCA’s Whistleblower Remedies
Fraud can be very difficult for government bodies to uncover, while private individuals may have access to important information about scams. FCA encourages whistleblowers to come forward with details, so the statute establishes a cause of action known as qui tam. The details vary, but these cases typically proceed as follows:
- As a qui tam plaintiff, you sue the defendant to expose fraud and seek damages for the misappropriated funds.
- The government has the option to join the case as the plaintiff, but you may also be in the position of moving forward on your own as a “relator.”
- If officials intervene, you may receive up to 25 percent of the total amount recovered. When you pursue FCA remedies as the sole relator, you might get up to 30 percent of the award.
Speak to a South Florida Education Fraud Lawyer for Free
This overview explains the basics of charter school fraud, but many additional details make whistleblower lawsuits complicated. For more information on your options, please contact Guttman, Freidin & Celler in Miami, FL. You can schedule a no-cost case review by calling 800.654.8281 or reach us online. Once we evaluate your circumstances, we can advise you on the next steps.