Boccieri: Decision To Derail Charter School Sponsor Evaluation Rules Is Attempt To Avoid Accountability
Rulemaking panel thwarts new rules that would let state close failing, for-profit charter schools

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today expressed his disappointment in Republican legislators’ decision to reject a key charter school sponsor evaluation rule that came before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) yesterday. By delaying the rule’s implementation, the lawmakers may have threatened schools’ eligibility for $71 million in federal grant money that was predicated on the promise of a working sponsor evaluation system in Ohio.

“If we’re serious about making sure our students receive the high quality education they deserve, we can’t delay implementing crucial accountability checks like sponsor evaluations for an uncertain period of time,” said Rep. Boccieri. “We have waited long enough for struggling charter schools to meet reasonable standards of quality. We can’t afford to jeopardize funding that could help us make the progress we so desperately need.”

The rule in question would have allowed the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to begin implementing its charter school sponsor evaluation system, a critical accountability element of House Bill 2, the charter school reform law passed by the legislature last year. The new charter reform law established an October deadline for a completed sponsor evaluation process, but the rule’s rejection by the administrative rulemaking panel this week makes it unlikely ODE will be able to meet that deadline.

During JCARR, charter sponsors testified that complying with the rule would cost them too much money. They claimed that when ODE asked them for fiscal analysis input, they did not have all the information they needed about the evaluation system’s requirements to provide an accurate cost estimate. However, legal counsel at ODE confirmed that sponsors were invited to comment throughout the entire rule-writing process.

“Public schools don’t have the same process for determining which enactments by the legislature pose an undue burden. The committee members who voted to side with charter schools are creating an unfair standard by which for-profit charter schools get to determine with which rules they want to comply,” Rep. Boccieri stated.

Republican efforts to disrupt the new rules aligned with a temporary change in Senate Republican membership on the panel this week that gave state Sen. Bill Coley a seat at the proceedings instead of Akron lawmaker Sen. Frank LaRose. Coley reportedly accepted thousands of dollars in political contributions from William Lager, founder of the failing, online charter school ECOT. ECOT receives over $100 million in tax dollars each year.

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