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Court Grants Stay; Department of Education Will Not Sponsor VLT Academy

Release date: 7/21/2014

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Education, Office of Sponsorship will not send nearly $300,000 of taxpayer money to the poor performing VLT Academy because of a court ruling Thursday.

The First District Court of Appeals granted a stay to a court order requiring the department to enter into a sponsorship contract with the poor performing community school. The stay also means the department will not pay the school $296,318.08 in state funding that the trial court ordered paid.

“In Ohio, we want every child to attend a quality school and receive a quality education. When a school is not performing up to standards, then action must be taken,” said Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction. “In addition to the boys and girls of Ohio, we also have an obligation to taxpayers to be good stewards of their tax dollars. It would not have been a good idea to provide state funding to this failing community school.”

VLT Academy was terminated by their sponsor, Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc., at the end of the 2013-2014 school year and subsequently requested that the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of School  Sponsorship become the sponsor. The Office of School Sponsorship refused to sponsor VLT Academy because of its history of poor academic performance and fiscal mismanagement.

The school sued the department and received a favorable ruling on July 14 in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas that would have forced the department to sponsor and pay the school. The stay places the decision on hold pending an appeal.

The Ohio Department of Education supports quality schools for all students and is utilizing the existing law effectively to ensure all schools are held accountable.

The department recently warned three sponsors that they would be shut down if they proceed with plans to open six community schools. The department sent letters to leaders of the Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc., Warren County Educational Service Center and Kids Count of Dayton, Inc., informing the potential sponsors of the severe deficiencies in their school application and approval processes.

The Ohio Department of Education looks forward to working with quality community school sponsors whose application processes reflect a desire to set high standards for their schools, uphold school autonomy and protect student and public interests.