David Hansen resigned from his job as John Kasich’s hand-picked Charter School Czar back in July after it was discovered that he illegally withheld damaging rating data from charter sponsor evaluations. On Thursday, seven weeks later, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) finally released some public records related to that charter school data scandal.
An initial review of the records by Plunderbund shows that Hansen was actively communicating with representatives of charter school sponsors who would eventually benefit from his data manipulation. It also shows that ODE staff members intentionally avoided sharing the manipulated calculations via printouts or email, potentially shielding those calculations from public records requests.
In one set of text messages released by ODE, Jennifer Robinson from the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation tells Hansen that “we need ODE to release our Exemplary rating.” The message included a smiley face emoticon.
A total of 11 text messages between Hansen and Robinson were included in the release.
According to Mother Jones, the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation oversees 51 charter schools in Ohio, including a failing school “on whose board Hansen previously sat.”
According to Cleveland.com , Buckeye’s schools were positively “affected by the exclusion” of data by Hansen.
In another text message received by Hansen, an ODE staffer writes: “The ratios are on your laptop. Someone needs to calculate the overall authorizer scores and walk them up to Melissa today. They have to be walked up, not emailed, not printed. Just handwritten on paper. Thanks!”
“Melissa” likely refers to Melissa Huffman, Chief Operating Officer at Ohio Department of Education. Ms. Huffman previously served as Deputy Campaign Manager For Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor and as Vice President of Public Affairs for the Strategic Public Partners Group – John Kasich’s go-to public relations firm.
Unsurprisingly, no “handwritten on paper” notes were included in ODE’s records release. And nothing in the records release from ODE documents phone calls or impromptu meetings involving Hansen, senior ODE officials or members of Governor John Kasich’s staff.
David Hansen is married to Beth Hansen, John Kasich’s Chief of Staff.
In 2009, Hansen was similarly caught altering data about Ohio charter schools for a report published by the Buckeye Institute. That report falsely improved the scores of a charter school sponsor who had given large donations to the non-profit organization Hansen was leading at the time. The same sponsor – David Brennan and White Hat Management – gave large sums of cash to John Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party.
Ohio Auditor David Yost recently announced that he wouldn’t be investigating Hansen or the Kasich Administration for illegally altering charter school data.
But Yost has endorsed fellow Republican John Kasich in his presidential bid. And it was recently revealed that Yost will be serving as Kasich’s presidential campaign co-chair.
Here are links to .pdf files of the text message records released on Thursday by ODE:
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