When Ohio legislators agreed to give charter schools a try, complete with public funding, the idea was to provide an alternative to failing public schools. But Buckeye State residents who have kept a close eye on charter schools may well be wondering whether they are getting no more than the same old, same old.
Allegations of mismanagement against some charters are nothing new. Now, state Auditor Dave Yost is wondering whether some of the institutions are guilty of precisely the same conduct that has landed public school officials in hot water.
Earlier this month, former Columbus school Superintendent Gene Harris was sentenced to community service and a $750 fine after pleading no contest to a dereliction of duty charge linked to a scandal in her district. It was found district reports to the state Department of Education were being doctored on various subjects, including school attendance. Officials in some other school systems have faced similar allegations.
Yost has revealed "unusually high" discrepancies between actual and reported attendance at about one-fourth of the 30 charter schools where unannounced checks were made by his staff. In other words, the same thing that caused a scandal in public schools may be happening in some charters.
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