The Ohio Department of Education has told three charter school sponsors that applications they’ve received for six new schools are flawed, and warned them against allowing them to open.
It’s the first time the department has issued such warnings to charter school sponsors, according to spokesman John Charlton.
In one case, Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, based in Cincinnati, sought to re-open a school that had previously been closed – what Charlton called ‘recycling’ a school.
“They were going to use the same superintendent, the same governing authority at the same location,” Charlton said. “So they’re obviously recycling a school. That’s not acceptable.”
In another instance, Charlton says, Warren County Educational Service Center submitted financial information on three proposed schools that was identical to a school that collapsed last fall. And a third sponsor, Kids Count Inc. of Dayton, wanted to authorize a school with a developer that owes the state $65,000 for another school that closed last year shortly after opening.
Sponsors are nonprofit companies or government agencies that authorize and oversee charter schools, but often are under contract to for-profit companies to operate them
The ODE doesn’t have authority to decide which applications a sponsor approves. But it can revoke its overall authority to sponsor charter schools.
Democratic State Senator Joe Schiavone sees the move as a next best solution to tightening charter school regulations at the legislative level. He says too many charter school operators – many of them for-profit companies – are approved to open schools that quickly fail.
“The bottom line is we need to put laws on the books,” he said, “so that we can prohibit these guys from ever operating in the state of Ohio again,”
The department reviewed new school applications to three other charter school sponsors, and gave them a green light.