Day One: Questions For Kasich… So What’s Going On At Your Department Of Education?

Kasich Is Campaigning In Michigan, While Charter School Scandals Widen

THAT STATE UP NORTH — Gov. John Kasich is back in Michigan today, fresh off losing every single Super Tuesday state, and he’s hoping reporters don’t ask him about a growing scandal within his Department of Education about charter schools —  an industry that just so happens to contribute millions to Kasich and Ohio Republican officials.

“John Kasich is running all over the country, as his education department is ignoring a major crisis — or worse, enabling — for-profit charter school operators that are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “If Kasich is serious about being vetted as a potential nominee, he should answer questions about whether his administration has been rigging the system to benefit his campaign donors.”

Yesterday the Columbus Dispatch revealed that an investigation into just one charter school — an online charter — found it had overbilled the state for nearly $800,000 in reimbursements for students that didn’t exist. However, the problem is likely much larger — e-charters divert $275 million annually from Ohio’s public schools. An investigation by the Akron Beacon Journal last year found that “charter schools misspend public money nearly four times more often than any other type of taxpayer-funded agency.”

Check out Kasich’s larger record on education in Ohio:

In addition, questions remain about a $71 million federal grant that could go toward expanding charters by one-third, from 300 to 400 schools statewide. The plan is for the new charters to replace public schools in urban districts, including Youngstown.

The official that wrote Ohio’s grant application, David Hansen, resigned after allegations surfaced that he broke state law by scrubbing charter school data — data that was included in the grant application. Hansen stepped down two days after submitting the application.

Hansen’s wife, Beth, is Gov. John Kasich’s former chief of staff and current presidential campaign manager. She worked on the Kasich administration’s legislative takeover of the Youngstown schools, a necessary prelude to the charter school expansion.