Charter School Opponents Call For More Transparency

By
UPDATED: Wednesday May 7, 2014 11:58 PM

There is a new push to hold charter schools more accountable in Ohio. 17 Columbus charter schools that ran on your tax dollars closed this year for health, safety or financial reasons. The state auditor is investigating three of them.

10TV reported on several charter schools that abruptly closed this winter. Parents were caught off guard.  Some schools were accused of having filthy conditions and exaggerated enrollment.

Now, there is a new discussion to put rules in place to make sure tax dollars for charter schools are being spent properly.

"In there I would quote statistics about achievement testing, our graduation rates," said Jeff Shaw. Shaw showed 10TV the annual report he put together while running a multi-million dollar statewide charter school.

"Well, the school that I operated had a perfect audit every single year. I was very proud of that," said Shaw.

Although he says his meticulous management is the rule, not the exception, people at the meeting find faults with the ways charter schools operate.

"Our concern is, where is the best investment of our tax dollars. We're looking at what kind of return we're getting on our investment," said Maureen Reedy, with Central Ohio Friend of Public Education.

In a room filled with concerned parents, teachers and community members, one state lawmaker stands before them calling for change.

"That's the key to it. It's just transparency. Accountability. If you want to be a school, make it about teaching kids, not about making money," said senator Joe Schiavoni, a democrat who represents the 33rd district of Ohio.

Senator Schiavoni is proposing a bill that would require all charter schools to be open to public record requests, much like public schools.

A recent statewide audit exposing 'data scrubbing' shows just how crucial that information can be, but many at the meeting say the need for transparency goes well beyond grades and into the schools' finances.

"I want to level the playing field, so that when our money goes to a lot of private and for-profit companies, that the for-profit isn't pulling out educational opportunities for our children," said Reedy.

Senator Schiavoni says his bill is in the early stages of discussion at the Statehouse.