Happening Today: Live Q&A with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Register to attend.
School Choice & Charters

Audit Spurs Drive to Revamp Ohio’s Charter School System

By John Gehring — February 27, 2002 3 min read

Following a scathing report on the state’s role in overseeing charter schools, the Ohio state board of education has asked the legislature to overhaul the state’s charter school law.

In an audit released this month, State Auditor Jim Petro wrote that the Ohio Department of Education has done an inadequate job of overseeing the state’s 92 charter schools, and he recommended that it be required to improve its performance within two months or risk losing oversight of the independent public schools.

Jim Petro

He recommended that the department streamline payments to charter schools and more closely scrutinize their enrollments, encourage more innovative financing mechanisms for charter school facilities, and mediate transportation disputes between the school districts in which charter students reside.

“We would have appreciated the tone to be different,” David Varda, the associate state superintendent of school finance and accountability, said of the auditor’s report. “But the bottom line for us is that we take the recommendations seriously and are going to move forward on them.”

Mr. Petro initiated the review in response to significant problems in Ohio’s community schools, as charter schools there are called, including the closure of eight community schools whose financial mismanagement cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

A 208-page operational review released Feb. 7 found that most problems involving charter schools were rooted in a lack of monitoring and assistance from the state education department, in part because state law does not clearly define its oversight role.

Because the department of education has shown limited ability to monitor charter schools, the state auditor recommended that the legislature allow the department to broaden the pool of charter school sponsors and delegate more authority to them.

If the department does not substantially improve its management within 60 days, Mr. Petro said, the legislature should establish a new commission to manage Ohio’s charter schools, which enroll some 23,000 students.

In response to the auditor’s strongly worded report, the state board of education voted unanimously on Feb. 12 to implement some of Mr. Petro’s recommendations that did not require legislative approval. It also asked Rep. Jon Husted to include many of the other recommendations in a bill he has sponsored to overhaul the charter school system.

According to Jennifer Sheets, the president of the state board, it was the panel’s first unanimous vote on a charter school issue. “It underscores the importance of establishing a new community school program,” she said.

Quick Reaction

The board welcomes the audit’s recommendations and acknowledges the weaknesses in the current system, she added. The growing pains of the 4-year-old charter school system, Ms. Sheets said, would be eased by clarifying state law.

Last May, a coalition of public school advocates filed a lawsuit claiming that the state education department is violating state law by allowing for-profit companies to run charter schools. Preliminary pretrial motions in that case have been set for May 14. (“Challenges to Charter Laws Mount,” May 2, 2001.)

In a Feb. 12 letter to Rep. Husted, a Republican, Ms. Sheets said the education department had restructured the office of community schools, hired a new executive director to head that office, and begun to implement a new management plan. She said the board of education would review the first phase of a management plan incorporating the auditor’s recommendations in April.

Ms. Sheets frowned on the idea of a separate commission overseeing charters. “We have been on record for some time as being opposed to a separate commission,” she said. “You would be creating two separate systems of education in Ohio.”

Rep. Husted said he has considered eliminating the provision in his bill that would create a separate commission. He said his primary concern is not who has authority over charter schools, but fostering better oversight, improved student performance, and more respect for the integrity of the charter school system. He contends that charter schools don’t get the guidance that they need from the department of education.

“We have set up a law that is inadequate in Ohio,” Mr. Husted said. “We have a lot of good charter schools, and in the end these changes will strengthen those schools and reduce some of the animosity between community schools and traditional public schools.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2002 edition of Education Week as Audit Spurs Drive to Revamp Ohio’s Charter School System

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Opinion Is Hybrid Home Schooling the Future of Education?
Rick Hess speaks with Mike McShane about hybrid home schooling, which combines the best of home schooling and traditional schooling.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Oklahoma Charter Schools Granted Local Tax Revenue in 'Seismic' Settlement
A groundbreaking settlement will fundamentally change the way charter schools are funded in Oklahoma, despite vehement opposition.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
This July 19, 2019 photo shows an Epic Charter Schools office in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with the state's public charter school association to settle a 2017 lawsuit.
This July 19, 2019 photo shows an Epic Charter Schools office in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with the state's public charter school association to settle a 2017 lawsuit.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
School Choice & Charters COVID-19 May Energize Push for School Choice in States. Where That Leads Is Unclear
The pandemic is driving legislators' interest in mechanisms like education savings accounts, but the growth may not be straightforward.
8 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature on Jan. 12 at the statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address to state lawmakers on Jan. 12. She's pushing a major school choice expansion.
Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP
School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor Are NOLA Charters a Mixed Bag?
To the Editor:
The opinion essay by Douglas N. Harris about how New Orleans’ education reforms post-Katrina are relevant to the COVID-19 era (“As Schools Recover After COVID-19, Look to New Orleans,” Sept. 30, 2020) highlights some basic improvements in the NOLA system but downplays the most significant aspects of those changes: the impact on people of color.
1 min read