Critics want pandemic funds returned

  • USA TODAY found that 1,139 US charter schools had $1 billion in canceled PPP loans.
  • The survey found that almost all – 93% – had not lost money during the pandemic.
  • Critics want the Small Business Administration to get PPP refunds from charter schools.

The Biden administration has vowed to prosecute those who may have abused federal financial aid during the pandemic, and charter schools could be one of the industries under scrutiny.

State-funded but privately run schools that teach a fraction of American children have secured more than $1 billion in forgiven loans from the Paycheck Protection Program designed to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic.

A USA TODAY survey found more than 1,100 US charter schools had those loans forgiven, but 93% of them may not have needed the money because they were in states that continued fund their operations at the same level as before the pandemic, or even higher levels in some cases.

The loan program had enough wiggle room to allow small businesses, including charter schools, to qualify without showing financial need. Federal regulations only required companies applying for the loans to say they were facing “economic uncertainty” and that the money was needed to support ongoing operations.

USA TODAY CHARTER SCHOOL SURVEY:Taxpayers covered $28 million in charter school PPP loans from the KIPP Foundation despite its $75 million in assets

‘THE ETHICAL THING TO DO’:Why This Small San Diego Charter School Passed On COVID PPP Loans

A congresswoman and tax watchdogs are calling on the federal Small Business Administration (SBA), which administered the loan forgiveness program, to claw back some of that money.

Charter School PPP Loans

USA TODAY reviewed documents from the Internal Revenue Service, SBA, state departments of education and charter schools, and interviewed dozens of people, including education experts and school dogs. guard to find:

►The range of canceled loans for 1,139 charter schools in 37 states was $150,746 to $9.8 million.

►Some charter schools have used the money to increase savings accounts or, in one case, hand over millions of dollars to an investor.

►A small San Diego charter chain that serves low-income kids turned down a $3 million PPP loan, saying taking the money was unethical because California didn’t cut any funding to children. public schools.

►A California charter chain secured $32.7 million in PPP loans using 12 separate nonprofits tied to different schools to get the money. All loans were sent to the same address in Lancaster. The channel, Learn4Life, denied any wrongdoing.

►KIPP, one of the nation’s largest charter chains, saw its earnings increase by $27 million in fiscal 2020. However, 14 of its affiliate organizations across the country earned $28.4 million dollars of canceled PPP loans. KIPP said its affiliates had additional financial needs.

Got a tip on business or investigative stories? Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-509-3613 or on Twitter @CraigHarrisUSAT or

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