Whistle-blower contradicts charter school

Evidence provided to The Blade appears to contradict public statements made this week by an online charter school that it withdraws all chronically truant students who have no legitimate excuse for being absent.

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) said this week an anonymous whistle-blower had sent lawmakers a list of hundreds of students who were designated as truant at Maumee-based Ohio Virtual Academy, yet had not been removed from its enrollment lists. Under state law, charter schools must withdraw students who miss 105 consecutive hours without a legitimate excuse. Not withdrawing those students would arbitrarily boost attendance figures, by which charter schools are paid in state funds.

School officials say the allegations are “totally and categorically false.” But both an email and audio recording provided to The Blade appears to show that OVA set a cutoff date of April 6 for truancy withdrawals, and that no students would be taken off their attendance rolls after that date, regardless of the reason.

The audio recording is of a conference call that appears to be led by Kathy Pine, instructional coordinator at the school. In the April 6 call, she tells staff members that the school would not be approving any truancy withdrawals after that day, so they needed to turn in their withdrawal requests. She followed up that call with an email to staff on April 21.

(Read more at the Blade)

Tax dollars paying for charters’ ads

Hundreds of Ohio charter schools spent a total of at least $5.6 million of tax money on advertising last school year.

That’s almost double what traditional school districts spent, even though charters serve just 7 percent of the state’s public-school students.

And that’s only what was reported to the state. If tax money was first shifted to a private, for-profit charter management company before it was spent on ads, it wouldn’t show up publicly anywhere. It’s a private business expense.

Ohio legislators can’t agree on whether that’s a good or bad thing, but their reactions fall largely along party lines. Democrats generally say they oppose spending tax dollars on advertising, and Republicans generally accept it as a cost of doing business.

(Read more at the Dispatch).

Lawsuit alleging discrimination called 'not true' by Cleveland charter school operator

A lawsuit alleging discrimination is being called "not true" by executives managing a Cleveland charter school.

Mary Addi is a former employee at the school from 2006 until 2009 and claims in a lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court that she faced discrimination and retaliation while employed at Horizon Science Academy Denison Middle School.

The school is operated by the Chicago based Concept Schools that operates 17 other charter schools across Ohio and received an F on the latest Ohio School Report Card for student test scores.

In a statement by Concept Schools Vice President Salim Ucan, the school says Addi "was fired for lying and caught working another job when she promised taxpayers she would work full time."

In addition, Ucan said the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission "reviewed these wild claims and dismissed them five years ago because they simply were not true".

(Read more at ABC 5)