Ohio submits new figures on state’s failing charter schools


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s new superintendent submitted significantly less rosy charter school performance data to federal regulators deciding whether to release a $71 million charter school grant awarded to the state.

Superintendent Lonny Rivera’s figures in a Jan. 29 letter reflect that Ohio has 10 times as many failing charter schools and only about half as many high-performing ones as previously stated, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/20wtYgE).

Department of Education officials said Ohio has 57 total poor-performing charter schools, not just the six reported in the state’s grant application in July.

Federal regulators put Ohio’s charter school grant disbursement on hold following concerns regarding the state Department of Education’s alleged rigging of charter school evaluations.

The Jan. 29 letter was Ohio’s third response to questioning from regulators since a review was opened in November.

Rivera said the figures initially reported in Ohio’s grant application were based on federal guidelines. He said the change was the result of the state’s new, tougher definition of what is and isn’t a failing charter school.

The “newly implemented state definition utilizes more rigorous criteria than the federal definition,” Rivera said.

Ohio Board of Education President Tom Gunlock said he’s unsure when the federal education department’s review will be completed, but he expected the grant to ultimately be released.

The state hopes to use the federal aid to award grants of up to $700,000 to applicants seeking to open new charter schools.

Former state charter schools chief David Hansen, who drafted Ohio’s grant application, resigned this past July after acknowledging that he omitted failing grades for some schools in evaluations of their sponsors.

Reviews conducted by Hansen were tossed out by former state Superintendent Richard Ross, who resigned at the end of December. New evaluations will be completed by October.

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