If it wasn’t so appalling, we might be able to laugh at the continued insistence that Ohio’s charter (community) schools are held to the same level of accountability as are traditional public schools.  In fact, some charter school proponents actually insist that charters are held MORE accountable than their public school counterparts.

The Ohio Association of Public Charter Schools (OAPCS) promotes this idea readily through their website materials, including their Ohio Charter Law Guidebook (p. 12) and a PowerPoint that is titled Understanding Ohio’s Public Charter Schools.  From page 5 of that presentation:

Pages from OAPCS__Charter_School_Powerpoint

It’s time to put that myth to rest as nothing could be further from the truth.

Last year, the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC), a nonpartisan agency that provides drafting, fiscal, research, training, and other technical services to the General Assembly, published a brief titled Education Laws and Community Schools.  In that brief, they document over 150 references to Ohio Revised Code that don’t apply to charters, but which all public school districts must follow.

On the opening page of the brief, the LSC states it simply:

Community schools are exempt from many of the education laws of the state.

In fact, that very statement is based on Ohio Revised Code:

3314.04 Exemption from state laws and rules.
Except as otherwise specified in this chapter and in the contract between a community school and a sponsor, such school is exempt from all state laws and rules pertaining to schools, school districts, and boards of education, except those laws and rules that grant certain rights to parents.

We’d like to highlight a few of these laws:

3301.07: State Board of Education minimum standards covering the assignment of professional personnel according to training and qualifications; instructional materials and equipment, including library facilities; proper organization, administration, and supervision of schools; buildings and grounds (other than any building health and safety standards); admission and promotion of students; phonics instruction; instruction in energy and resource conservation; and reporting requirements.

And in the footnotes, the LSC adds this for clarification: Ohio law also appears to exempt community schools from the provision of the State Board’s minimum education standards that requires teachers to be assigned to teach in the area or grade level in which they are licensed.

Charter schools?  EXEMPT

3313.60: School course of study requirement

A sentence or two can’t quite do this one justice, and you really need to click the link and read the law to get the full effect, but a summary of the law reads like this: [A school district] shall prescribe a curriculum for all schools under its control … in any such curriculum there shall be included the study of the following subjects: The language arts, including reading, writing, spelling, oral and written English, and literature; Geography, the history of the United States and of Ohio, and national, state, and local government in the United States; Mathematics; Natural science, including instruction in the conservation of natural resources; Health education; Physical education; The fine arts, including music; First aid.

Charter schools?  EXEMPT

3313.602(B) and (C) – Requirement that the “principles of democracy and ethics” be emphasized and discussed in appropriate parts of the curriculum and to encourage a school’s employees to be cognizant of their roles to instill in students “ethical principles and democratic ideals”.

This might explain why charter school proponents are able to, with a straight face and clean conscience, continue spreading the lie about them being “more accountable” than public schools — no need for those pesky ethical principles.

Charter Schools?  EXEMPT

3315.07: Requirements related to the publishing of school materials for the public; prohibition against using public funds to support or oppose the passage of a school levy or bond issue or to compensate any district employee for time spent on any activity meant to influence the outcome of a levy or bond issue

Or stated in the language in which the law is written, “A charter school may use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a school levy or bond issue or to compensate any employee for time spent on any activity intended to influence the outcome of a school levy or bond issue election.”

Charter Schools?  EXEMPT

3317.061: Requirement to annually report licensed employees to the State Board

Who’s working in those charter schools anyway?  Apparently they aren’t required to report the names, salaries, college experience, degrees earned, or type of teaching license held.

Charter schools?  EXEMPT

3317.15: Requirements specifying the number of speech-language pathologists and school psychologists a school district must hire

The law reads “Each … district shall continue to comply with all requirements of federal statutes and regulations, the Revised Code, and rules adopted by the state board of education governing education of children with disabilities, including, but not limited to, requirements that children with disabilities be served by appropriately licensed or certificated education personnel.”  Hmm…how do those charters serve children who need the services of a speech-language pathologist or a school psychologist?

Charter schools?  EXEMPT

3327.01 to 3327.05: Student transportation requirements (R.C. 3314.09 and 3314.091 require a school district to transport its students to community schools in the same manner districts are required to transport students to other schools unless a community school assumes responsibility for providing student transportation. If a community school assumes that responsibility, it is specifically required to comply with the provisions of law regarding who must be transported, standards for payments in lieu of transportation, liability insurance, driver qualifications, and bus rider instruction programs. It is also generally required to comply with all provisions of law pertaining to the construction, design, equipment, and operation of school buses, including those pertaining to drivers and mechanics.)

This is a massive item that is frequently avoided in discussions about charter schools as the public district is responsible for the transportation mess that requires them to get kids to their schools all over the city at the district’s expense.

Charter schools?  EXEMPT

This is just a sampling of the long list of laws that Ohio’s charter schools don’t have to follow, so don’t believe the myth that charter schools are just as accountable as the public schools.

Pages from OAPCS__Charter_School_Powerpoint LESS


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