The state’s highest-ranking Democratic member of the House education panel, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), today called for a clean and independent investigation into allegations of attendance fraud at the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA).
In May of this year, Fedor and House Education Committee Chairman Bill Hayes (R-Harrison Township) forwarded documents from an anonymous whistleblower showing what appeared to be an attendance scrubbing scheme at OHVA, in which the online school received more state tax dollars by seemingly padding its rolls with chronically truant students.
“It is obvious that we hit a nerve and potentially upset OHVA’s gravy train when we took allegations of attendance fraud seriously and forwarded them to the proper authorities,” said Fedor. “It later became apparent that the man in charge of reviewing these complaints for the state was tainted and in-bed with the industry during the time of the supposed review. That is why we deserve a clean and independent investigation into these allegations, one that will finally provide real answers for parents, taxpayers and students.”
The same group that has a vested interest in OHVA – its sponsor, the Ohio Council of Community Schools – was permitted by the Ohio Department of Education’s then-charter chief, David Hansen, to conduct the “investigation,” with Hansen signing off on the findings. Republican State Auditor David Yost, who was requested by Fedor and Hayes to investigate, has yet to acknowledge whether he will look at the complaint.
“This is David versus Goliath in the fight for our children’s future. We have a one-billion dollar industry that hasn’t been playing by the same rules as other schools for years, and that has emboldened some bad actors. The gravy train is about to end, and they’re scared. All we have to do is follow the money,” Fedor added.
Fedor also today joined the growing chorus for the state’s education agency to release public records created from the charter school grade scrubbing scandal that brought about the resignation of Ohio’s top charter school official, David Hansen. The scandal also drew calls for State Superintendent Dick Ross to resign.
A copy of Fedor’s public records request is attached.
August 27, 2015
Dr. Richard A. Ross
Superintendent of Public Instruction
25 South Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-4183
Dear Superintendent Ross:
I write today to formally request public documents under ORC 149.43 related to the scrubbing of charter school sponsor evaluation data.
This request includes any e-mails to and from Mr. David Hansen, former School Choice Director, regarding the process Hansen used when evaluating Ohio charter school sponsors.
Newspaper reports indicate that the Ohio Department of Education has already reviewed these relevant records, but have refused to fulfill similar public records requests from the media.
The Ohio public deserves to know whether Mr. Hansen acted alone in illegally altering omitting failing grades from poorly performing charter schools.
I look forward to your prompt response to this public records request.
State Representative Teresa Fedor
CC: State Board of Education