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GOP lawmakers derail statewide charter school accountability standards

Rulemaking panel thwarts new rules that would let state close failing, for-profit charter schools
August 22, 2016
Democratic Newsroom

Republican lawmakers today used procedural tactics on a little-known administrative rulemaking panel to derail new rules that would have given the state authority to close the poorest performing, for-profit charter schools in Ohio this year. The rules, proposed by the Ohio Department of Education, stem from the legislature’s near-unanimous approval of the much-lauded House Bill 2 in February.

“This is a clear case of Republican charter school industry allies doing everything in their power to derail, disrupt and delay new reforms that would help hold charter schools to a reasonable standard of achievement,” said Rep. Greta Johnson, a Democratic Akron legislator on the state rulemaking panel. “It is incredibly frustrating that higher standards born out of bipartisan, statewide consensus can be derailed by legislators who are closely aligned with these failing schools.”

The procedural disruption by Republicans on the administrative rulemaking panel, JCARR, effectively casts doubt on the state’s ability to use an updated charter-school evaluation system to close failing charter schools this school year.

“It is beyond disappointing that Republican members of JCARR would seek to delay implementation of charter school reforms,” said Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), a member of JCARR. “Ohioans need to know the quality of the schools their children attend. Delaying implementation is only supposed to happen if the rule violates specific prongs, including legislative intent. The intent of the legislature was to make certain these rankings were made public this October. Today’s delay may prevent that.”

Republican efforts to disrupt the new rules aligned with a temporary change in Senate Republican membership on the panel today 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.