The U.S. Department of Education has placed safeguards on the $71 million grant for new charter schools in Ohio after misleading and false information was used in Ohio’s grant application.
The Charter School Program awarding that grant was launched in 2013. This year the USDOE is awarding over $157 million through the program to 12 of what the USDOE has said are high-quality charter management organizations. However, the Ohio Department of Education was accused of falsifying information in its grant application and falsely portraying the state as having excellent charter schools and accountability in September.
“All students have the right to an education that prepares them for college and their careers, and we’re thrilled that a growing number of charter schools create opportunities for students to achieve just that,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release.
The USDOE said that the new safeguards will “ensure that ODE will be able to carry out its proposed project in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements.”
The Charter School Program granted Ohio the largest amount of money of any state, but the Center for Research and Education Outcomes has firmly criticized Ohio’s performance in the past. In its charter school performance report published in 2014, CREDO found that compared to traditional public schools, Ohio charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics. Some believe the Ohio Department of Education’s misleading claims are drawing important funds from schools that are more deserving of the grant.
“Since awarding the grant to ODE, the department has received additional information that raises continuing concerns regarding ODE’s ability to administer its grant properly, particularly in the areas of oversight and accountability with respect to Ohio’s charter schools,” Stefan Huh, director of the charter school program for the U.S. Department of Education, said in a letter to Richard Ross, ODE superintendent of public instruction.
Ohio’s charter school history is well documented and shows that roughly a third of the state’s charter schools received a D or F on the Performance Index, although the state claimed to have zero “poor-performing” charters in 2012-13.
In the press release that announced this year’s charter grants, the USDOE said it was “proud to support high-quality public charter schools, especially those that are creating pathways to college, credentials and careers for low-income students and first-generation college-goers.”
Renée Middleton, dean of the Patton College of Education at Ohio University, condemned the application that David Hansen, former employee of the ODE, filled out.
“At best, the ODE’s claims are misleading; at worst, they’re downright deceitful,” Middleton said.