State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker on the House Education Committee, responded to today’s ruling by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jenifer French that found that stopping a state attendance probe into the online charter school ECOT would be in violation of state policies. A state audit of ECOT attendance data revealed the online charter could be defrauding the state and taxpayers by some $60 million during the last year alone by over reporting enrollment by 143 percent during the same period. Judge French’s ruling comes as a response to ECOT’s efforts to stop the state from obtaining additional and accurate attendance data from the online charter.
“Today’s decision reaffirms what education experts, Democratic lawmakers, teachers, parents and I have been saying since the inception of the Republican-led charter school experiment: We cannot let our most vulnerable children be robbed of the opportunity for a lifetime of success just to line the pockets of failing charter school operators,” said Fedor. “This ruling raises new questions as to how state leaders have turned a blind eye to online charter schools cheating our children, taxpayers and traditional schools since 2003. I believe Judge French’s ruling confirms that online charter schools should be held to the same standards and rules as traditional schools to best protect our children’s and the public’s interest in guaranteeing high-quality educational opportunities for children from all backgrounds – especially our most vulnerable.”
Last year, Fedor and others called for the state to investigate Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), another online charter, after a whistleblower contacted her office providing documents that allege OHVA receives more state tax dollars by padding its rolls with chronically truant students.
“It is time for state education officials to get serious
State Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) was presented with the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA) Southeast Region President’s Award Thursday evening during the region’s Annual Fall Conference. Every year, the President’s Award recognizes dedicated leadership in education and unwavering commitment to students in the Southeast region.
State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) recently announced that the Ohio Development Services Agency has opened the application process for the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program, which provides direct financial assistance to train workers and improve the economic competitiveness of the state’s employers.
“I am hopeful that employers in Lucas County will take advantage of this important opportunity to grow and supplement our skilled workforce,” said Rep. Sheehy. “This program offers educational training opportunities for companies to retain and grow their existing workforce while also improving overall company competitiveness.”
Democratic lawmakers from the Ohio House and Senate held a press conference today pushing for legislative action to combat the worsening statewide opioid emergency. Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and state Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Greta Johnson (D-Akron) pushed for the legislature and the governor to finish work on Senate Bill (SB) 319, opioid and heroin omnibus legislation that the Senate passed before the summer recess but has since stalled in the House.
“Senate Bill 319— which helps decrease the availability of opioids throughout Ohio— is a good piece of legislation, and I was proud to support it,” said Schiavoni. “However, we know there is much more work to be done. Communities have experienced a troubling number of overdoses this summer. The public is calling for action, and it’s time we equip them with the resources they need to fight this epidemic.”
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today provided details about last week's historic court victory, which will put more than 1.2 million Ohio voters back on the voting rolls.
Rep. Clyde and Andre Washington, a lead plaintiff in the case that restored these voters, outlined the impact of the five year legal battle to rightfully restore purged voters back to the rolls.
State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today said that fantasy sports should not constitute a gambling activity that needs to be regulated by the government. The lawmaker’s comments are in response to Senate Bill (SB) 356, legislation recently introduced by Sen. Bill Coley that would ban for-profit fantasy sports and betting on outcomes of an electronic sports contest.
Democratic lawmakers say today’s request by the Kasich administration for over $9 million in state emergency funds for law enforcement costs from the RNC 2016 convention show the governor has the power to take a similar approach in fighting the statewide opioid and heroin epidemic. Today’s state Controlling Board request comes at the same time the administration has danced around multiple requests to declare a statewide emergency on the opioid and heroin epidemic that claimed the lives of eight Ohioans on average every day last year.
“Requesting millions in emergency funds for a political event already past underscores the fact that the governor has broad authority to declare an emergency in our state,” said Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus), who sits on the state Controlling Board. “Thousands of Ohioans have lost their lives to opioid abuse and addiction in recent years; that, to me, is a statewide emergency. I would love to hear from the governor why he continues to refuse to bring the full force of the state to bear on the growing statewide opioid epidemic.”
State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) today announced the release of $1,827,843 in state funds to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) for upgrades to five of the state’s mental health facilities. Among MHAS facilities selected to receive a portion of the Network Switch & Cabling Upgrade funds is the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital (NOPH) in Lucas County.
State Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) today announced the approval of a $500,000 state loan to Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) for the construction of a new corporate office in North Jackson, Mahoning County. Expected to open in August 2017, the new state-of-the-art 16,524 sq. ft. corporate office will be built in the Youngstown Commerce Park and allow the not-for-profit public safety organization to create nine new jobs and retain 66 existing jobs. Once the new building is complete, the headquarters will house all 75 of the nonprofit’s employees.
Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and state Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) responded to today’s 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning the district court and ordering Secretary of State Jon Husted to stop purging voters for inactivity:
“Thankfully, today’s court decision effectively halts Ohio’s unlawful voter registration cancellations and will hopefully lead to the end of this arbitrary silencing of voters’ voices.”