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Ohio Department of Education Warns Sponsors of Consequences

Release date: 4/25/2014

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Education, Office of Community Schools has warned three sponsors that they will 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., the 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.  

“There were several Ohio community schools that either failed to open or closed before the end of the school year. That is not acceptable,” said Dr. Richard A. Ross, Ohio superintendent of public instruction. “While this is a substantial waste of taxpayer money, what is more troubling are the lost educational opportunities for the boys and girls of Ohio. We are committed to making sure that sponsors are opening schools that will be able to provide the quality education that Ohio students deserve.”

This year, the Office of Community Schools reviewed the new school approval processes of six authorizers, examining the rigor and thoroughness of the application process each sponsor uses prior to entering into preliminary agreements with a prospective community school.

It was clear that the identified sponsors lacked not only the appropriate processes, but more importantly, the commitment of mission, expertise and resources needed to be an effective charter sponsor.

The review found that:

  • Education Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc., sought to “recycle” a school that closed for failing to meet academic requirements using the same superintendent, governing authority and location.
  • The Warren County Educational Service Center sought to authorize three schools each for 175 students without performing any basic market research to justify state funding for that many students and was willing to authorize each school with basic financials that were identical to the Olympus schools that collapsed last fall.
  • Kids Count of Dayton, Inc., sought to authorize a community school with a developer that owes the state $65,000 for another school that closed last year shortly after opening. The sponsor does not appear to have performed even a basic Internet search to learn about the school developer’s past.

The actions of these three sponsors violate the department’s expectations of sponsors.

Three other reviewed sponsors showed they have the desire, resources and expertise required to be effective sponsors.

  • First time authorizer Jefferson County Educational Service Center proposes to open Utica Shale Academy (USA) in Columbiana County. This school will prepare students seeking careers in Ohio’s booming shale oil industry.
  • The Fordham Foundation proposes to open another school in the United Schools Network of Columbus. United Schools Network runs two schools earning “A’s” on their report cards.
  • Buckeye Hope Community Foundation proposes to open four schools including the Toledo SMART School, a new school for English language learners, particularly native Spanish-speaking children.

The Ohio Department of Education looks forward to working with effective 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. These are the kinds of sponsors experience shows will be successful.