Gov. Kasich & Auditor Yost botch investigation of growing charter school scandal
Columbus – In December 2013, teacher Matt Blair asked the Ohio Department of Education to investigate widespread cheating by officials at the Horizon Science Academy charter school such as the school keeping “at risk” students out of class during standardized tests and school officials filling out standardized test answers.
Instead of thoroughly investigating the allegations, the Ohio Department of Education (“ODE”) sent a questionnaire asking the charter school if it had any policies against such cheating with the instructions to “feel free to keep your responses brief and ‘positive.’” [Source: Hannah Report (6/25/2014), “Teacher Turns to State Board, Auditor with Charter Allegations.”] After news of ODE poor investigation become public, ODE vowed to do another investigation. [Source: Dayton Daily News (6/26/2014), “State re-checking charter school accusations.”]
Frustrated by the poor response by ODE, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) asked State Auditor Dave Yost to investigate, months after another former employee had already asked him to investigate the charter school’s financial data and State testing information. Only after State Representative John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) asked Yost to investigate, Yost’s office replied that if they investigate and find wrongdoing it will report it to the Ohio Department of Education—the same agency that had already ran a sham investigation in the first place. [Source: Gongwer (7/8/2014), “Politics Notebook: Carney Criticizes Audits of Horizon Charters.”]
In response to the continued lack of serious attention to this growing charter school scandal, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:
“The charter school system in Ohio is broken and many are producing the poorest results in education, but Republicans like Governor Kasich and State Auditor Dave Yost are ideologically blind to address it. Where can taxpayers turn for protection when faced with such a systematic failure of government accountability across the board? In order to have an Ohio Department of Education that will put students and taxpayers first over corporate charter school executives, we need change in Columbus.”