ODE is starting its heavy-handed consolidation of charter schools

State takes over two Reynoldsburg charter schools

By Connor Brown


We hate to say we told you so… but we told you so. The State of Ohio is set to take over two of Reynoldsburg City Schools charter schools by means of their controversial sponsor evaluation system. If you recall, last year, ODE sidestepped the legislature and hijacked the sponsor review process to hold sponsors “more accountable.” They created a two-part standard for this measure, using compliance with rules and academic performance. The rules were applied to schools retroactively and were essentially throwing the books at schools and giving them no time to comply with standards they had no idea were coming. It was so outrageous even the Dispatch, who normally cheers ODE, had to call out the outrageous practice.

The other component was academic performance, which was based upon testing scores from the 2015-16 school year. If one recalls, those are the same test scores that Superintendent Paulo DiMaria told us to ignore, that they were “a system in transition” and would not be used against schools.

…Except charter schools it seems.

While ODE exempted everyone from these test results, it used those same results that were too unreliable and “different” to use for schools and applied them to sponsors. (Except for ODE’s own office of sponsorship, which was exempt.) This resulted in long-standing (and even successful charters) being ripped away from the sponsors. Many of these schools were forced to close their doors on these students. And now, those who fought against the tyranny of ODE instead of closing, are now under the direct control of the Department of Education.

So, to review: ODE hijacks the rule-making process, created impossible standards for sponsors, and exempts itself and all other schools from the same standards. All with the goal of closing and consolidating charter schools, leaving parents with fewer, high-quality choices.

When will the legislature wake up and rein in this out of control department?