Reforms of public charter schools in Ohio need to go much further

As outlined in this news- paper’s April 4 editorial “Charter reform bill falls short of the goal of full transparency,” financial disclosure and accountability for public charter schools is critical. My organization, the Ohio 8 Coalition, suggests that Ohio House Bill 2 go further in two specific ways.

First, it should require all charter school operator financial records to be publicly audited and disclosed. Accountability for the millions of public tax dollars sent to charter schools is now lost once given to the operator. Traditional public schools have at least two audits each year. Why set up a separate fiscal accountability system for public charter schools that have the same charge and responsibility on behalf of our kids?

The status of private operators should not exempt them from being accountable to the public, and in fact, such a relationship should demand accountability as a part of doing business with Ohio taxpayers.

And second, we suggest requirements are established that prohibit a charter school from reopening under a new name with the same sponsor, operator, board, or treasurer. Under current law, charter schools that close under a definition other than “permanent closure” are exempt from the limitations on reopening. In order to ensure that poorly performing charter schools that have closed for any reason do not reopen without making major administrative changes, it is critical that we clarify the language of the law in this way.

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