It’s a bad week to be David Hansen, who heads Ohio’s charter school accountability office.
The Columbus Dispatch tells us that the Imagine Columbus Primary Academy, a chronically failing charter, might be forced to close its doors amid concerns over an exorbitant, conflict-laden lease that leaves little money for classroom instruction.
WDTN in Dayton reports that three people were convicted of bribery and taking kickbacks at a Dayton charter.
And today the ODE sent letters to three charter schools (Imagine Cleveland, Villaview and Cleveland Community School) threatening to shut the schools down because their “performance has generally been a failure.”
While these developments are new, charter school scandals in Ohio are routine. In fact, Ohio’s charters are so famously bad that even the head of the pro-charter group, StudentsFirst, said that most Ohio charter schools “stink.”
Lest anyone think the comment was taken out of context, here is the full quote from Greg Harris, who directs StudentsFirst Ohio:
“We think a lot of them (charters) need to be closed, because they’re not doing a good job,” Harris said. “We think charters have a role in the education base, but we also think most of the charters in Ohio stink.”
Back to David Hansen, whose official title is head of the Office of Quality School Choice and Funding.
What does he do for the tax dollars we pay him? Has he taken any steps to correct the pattern of wrongdoing? Does he have a position on the charter school reform bills moving through the legislature?
Lots of other folks have positions and are not shy about giving them.
In March, state auditor David Yost, a Republican suggested bringing charter-school law more in line with truancy laws for traditional public schools.
No word from Hansen about that suggestion.
Today, ProgressOhio said the reform legislation should expand the authority of the Ohio Department of Education to shut down schools like the Imagine one that engage in a pattern of self-dealing and have a consistently terrible record of educating kids.
No word from Hansen about that one either.
Imagine is a Virginia-based company that has been under fire in multiple states for pressuring its schools to pay exorbitant rent to an Imagine subsidiary. Last December, a federal judge in Missouri ordered Imagine to pay $1 million for recruiting and manipulating a Missouri school board, then profiting from a “double-dealing” lease scheme with SchoolHouse Finance, an Imagine subsidiary.
The Columbus school threatened with closure has a similar lease arrangement with SchoolHouse. School board members tried and failed to get Imagine to re-negotiate the $700,000-per-year lease, then resigned. So Imagine recruited five new board members who joined the panel this week.
The North Side charter is the successor to another persistently failing Imagine school – that operated for nine year at the same location. Hansen used to sit on the board of the prior school and supported its closure three years ago.
Since then, the new Imagine school has opened in the same building with a similar lease, and a new school board. And Gov. Kasich has tapped Hansen to lead Ohio’s new Office of Quality School Choice and Funding.
That makes Hansen an expert on the topic.
You’d think he’d have something to say.