NBC4 Investigates: Taxpayers Left Holding Bill For Charter Schools
Charter schools in Ohio are closing at record rates, and taxpayers are being left holding the bill. Many are calling the situation a crisis for Ohio's charter schools. Millions of taxpayer dollars are pumped in to prop up private charter schools, but when the schools fail, there's very little money left to collect.
State Audits Show ECOT Founder, William Lager, Was Paid Millions For Undocumented Work
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been exposing the astounding misuse of taxpayer dollars by Ohio’s largest charter school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). The original founder of ECOT, William Lager, created private companies to provide various services to ECOT from it’s inception; companies that have now been paid over $100,000,000 since the school first began operations.
Charter School reform
The state department of education has released its annual report on charter schools and while the number of schools and the number of students continued to climb, the overall performance index is still very poor.
ECOT Founder Living VERY Well Off Ohio’s School Funding Dollars
Since 2004, Lager, the ECOT CEO, has been donating to Ohio political campaigns with staggering regularity and in staggering numbers for someone whose main livelihood is providing a “public” education to Ohio children. Lager began profiting off of Ohio taxpayers shortly after opening ECOT at the turn of the century. In FY08, Lager figured out a way to pocket even more taxpayer dollars. The bottom line? William Lager is grandly profiting off of taxpayer dollars that are supposed to be going to our schools.
Ohio’s Largest Taxpayer-Funded Charter School, ECOT, Receives Bonus Check
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is the largest charter school in the state of Ohio. The online school is larger than the vast majority of Ohio’s traditional school districts and received over $88 million in state funding last school year. This year that amount is expected to jump to over $92 million.
State audit finds more sloppy bookkeeping at former charter school
Sloppy bookkeeping at the Legacy Academy for Leaders and the Arts, a now-closed community school in the city, continued until the very end, according to the closeout audit released Tuesday by state Auditor Dave Yost’s office.
Dayton Daily News investigation finds millions in misspent taxpayer funds won’t be paid back
Ohio has collected only a small percentage of the $84.6 million in taxpayer money singled out by watchdogs as misspent or mishandled by public agencies since 2001. Approximately $32.1 million has reached a six-year statute of limitations on collections without repayment. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office considers $24.7 million “virtually uncollectible.”
Ohio paid $1.2M for charter schools that quickly closed
A newspaper reports that the state of Ohio paid nearly $1.2 million to a string of charter schools that closed weeks after they opened. The Dayton Daily News said today that all the schools operated under the name Olympus High School. They were operated by Education Innovations International, whose officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment.
Taxpayers’ $1.2 million propped up owner’s 2nd charter-school bust
After resigning this year as superintendent of a financially troubled Internet charter school amid allegations of nepotism, James McCord had a new plan, and it again involved a charter school employing him and his family. And again, it all collapsed. The school’s sponsor suspended it last month. Ohio taxpayers helped fund this business failure. The state paid Olympus schools about $1.2 million, most of it for students it couldn’t confirm received schooling, the state Department of Education said.
Ohio’s charter schools spend far more on administration than public schools
Governor Kasich frequently claims to embrace school funding policies that put more money in the classroom. So a new Innovation Ohio Education Fund analysis may prove instructive, as it looks at how likely Ohio traditional public and charter schools are to do just that.
The IOEF analysis finds that:
Traditional public school districts in Ohio dedicated 11.5% of their spending to administration
The average charter spends over 28% on administration
The best charter schools spend 20.5%, while the worst spend nearly 40% on administration
On a per pupil basis, the worst charter schools in Ohio spend six times as much on administration
What can be done to level the playing field between charter schools and the public common school system?
And what public policies should the state apply to private schools that accept vouchers?
The state’s actions to shield charter schools from a plethora of statutes and regulations to which traditional school districts are subjected, have allowed charter schools to cloak their operations with thick darkness that thwarts transparency and accountability. The charter school horse is out of the barn, but responsible use of the school district money that is extracted to support these private operations cries out for transparency and accountability.
Avoiding Accountability: How charter operators evade Ohio’s automatic closure law
The ability of schools and their management companies to skirt Ohio law reveals a systemic flaw in charter oversight. Until Ohio strengthens its charter-closure law, the state will continue to fall short of the goal of improving public education for all Ohio’s children.
Charter school expansion is racing forward without evidence to warrant such growth.
The state report card on charter schools would suggest a moratorium on expansion. 56 new charter schools have been receiving funds deducted from school districts this summer in anticipation of opening this school year. Nineteen of the new ones are sponsored by four ESCs, fifteen of which are by one of the ESCs. Two city districts are each sponsoring a new one. Hence, of the 56 new charters, 21 are sponsored by elected boards of education. Three are e-schools connected to for-profit companies.