Ohio charter school sponsors: New evaluations may go too far

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some charter school sponsors are questioning Ohio’s new evaluation rules, including a requirement that sponsors could face penalties if a school fails to display a U.S. flag at least 5 feet in length during the day.

The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/2aj1yQR) charters must display the state and national mottoes, show they don’t penalize workers for jury duty and show they’re compliant with outdoor pesticide rules.

The new sponsor evaluations were passed following criticism of lax state charter-school oversight and poor performance marks.

Some say the rules go too far by requiring proof they’re complying with some non-vital laws.

“By checking on everything, I think you make everything equally important,” said Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which sponsors 11 Ohio charter schools. “I don’t think that’s the case.”

Aldis said the system should differentiate between those who doing their job well and those who aren’t.

Sponsors earn ratings from “exemplary” to “poor” based on academic performance, following best practices and following rules and law.

Though the sponsors agree they should have to follow the law, some say the questionnaire was cumbersome.

“It’s all in the law so you have to account for it, but it was a lot to answer and many questions weren’t applicable,” said Marianne Cooper, executive director of the Richland Academy of the Arts.

Aldis said four people in his office spent nearly a month compiling the records, including whether they kept accurate hearing and vision test records.

The state Department of Education on June 27 requested that sponsors complete the reviews and provide training by July 6. The evaluations were due on July 25.

“They’ve known this is coming for quite some time,” said state Board of Education President Tom Gunlock. “It’s probably painful the first time.”


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com