At the State Board of Education meeting this week, four former teachers from the Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School testified about years of questionable practices and behavior, some of which had been previously reported and ignored by the Ohio Department of Education.
The things the teachers observed while teaching at the school are nothing short of appalling and the teachers were told by school administrators to avoid contacting the Ohio Department of Education and they feared losing their jobs and jeopardizing their careers if they reported the incidents.
Former teachers Kellie Kochensparger and Richard Storrick, reported that the school allowed sexual activity to occur during classes and other school-related functions.
Said Kochensparger, the school “failed to tell parents that their kids were suspended for having oral sex outside of the building where they were supposed to be inside attending a school-sponsored after-school cultural festival.” Kochensparger told the State Board that these sex acts were actually captured on the school’s surveillance video, but not reported by the school to any state officials.
The teachers also told State Board members of an in-class game called “Are You Nervous?” in which male students would touch the thighs and upper legs of female students, asking the girls if they were nervous, and continuing to move their hand higher and higher.
Storrick, a former math teacher at the school, told the story of witnessing this game in another teacher’s classroom:
A sex game was going on while the teacher was trying to teach. More than once a male student put his hand on a girl’s knee and asked, “are you nervous?”
If the female student said no, the male student would move his hand up her thigh.
The game was not a one-time occurrence, yet the teacher did nothing, insisting he didn’t know about the game. The school’s director was told about the incident, did nothing and rehired the teacher the following year.
Another former teacher Tim Neary, said the school is covering up other issues:
School administrators clearly lied about attendance. I never had a full class and they’d say the school had a 97 percent attendance rate. There was no oversight at all.
Neary also backed up the stories, shared with ODE previously, that the school violated state rules regarding the administration of the state’s standardized tests.
All the tests would go into one room, with an administrator behind a locked door. Nobody else got to see what was going on.
State Board members expressed their complete dismay over these reports, State Senator Peggy Lehner wants a full investigation to take place, and State Auditor Dave Yost has stated that he will open an investigation from his office into the practices of the full chain of schools.
The allegations are horrifying, to say the least, but what happened next could easily trump the stories of these teachers.
In an action that can only be described as retribution for the embarrassment that these educators have caused for the Ohio Department of Education for the agency being exposed for ignoring the serious claims of cheating, the four teachers now find themselves being referred by the department for investigation of a violation of state laws. The Ohio Department of Education is now threatening these “whistleblowers” with the suspension and/or revocation of their teaching licenses.
Kasich’s ODE spokesperson John Charlton basically brushed off the claims as a political stunt by disgruntled teachers:
We would like to remind educators that they do have a responsibility as mandatory reporters and certainly we hope that the educators that testified were not withholding information for this political event that they pulled at the board meeting. (Gongwer, 7/17/14)
Surely there can’t be anything wrong with the Almighty Charter School Owners and Operators, right?
Once again, it’s always the teacher’s fault…