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State Auditor Dave Yost says he started getting curious when he learned about the large amount of charter school closures last year.
Earlier this week he announced he’s following that curiosity by launching a special audit of three of the state’s charter school sponsors.
He will be auditing the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, the Warren County Educational Service Center, and Cincinnati’s St. Aloysius, all of which he said oversee first-year charter schools.
Seventeen of the state’s charter schools, which receive public tax dollars but are privately run, closed in 2013.
Yost wouldn’t give more specific details about those sponsors, but he says the investigation could grow .
“All we know is there have been an unusually high number of failures this year,” he said. “We don’t know why and we don’t know that anyone is necessarily doing anything wrong. It’s possible that these failures are the result of a poorly constructed system. It’s possible they are coincidences, though I tend not to think that.”
Nor would Yost elaborate on what his office will look for during the investigation other than saying he just plans to “find the facts and follow the money.”
Yost is also launching a performance audit of the Ohio Department of Education to answer some questions about the role they play in operating charter schools.
“Who has the authority and the power to supervise charter schools, what are the standards, how do they get started, are proper mechanisms in place,” he explained. “I think it’s time for us to take a look at this. Charters have been going on for over 15 years now in Ohio and it’s probably time to look at this and say ‘are we doing this the best we can.’”
ODE spokesperson John Charlton says sponsors bear most of the responsibility for charter schools, and adds that the department is fully cooperating with the audits.
Yost says he doesn’t have a timetable on how long each audit will take.