The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that giant charter school operator White Hat Management can continue to “take possession of the assets of charter schools — assets purchased with public money — and then charge the public to buy them back.” Not surprisingly, the justices that voted in favor of White Hat have received huge campaign contributions from White Hat’s owner.
The ABJ sums up the background story quite well:
The court ruled in favor of White Hat, one of the largest for-profit school management companies in the country, against 10 of its former Hope academies and Life Skills Centers, mostly in the Akron and Cleveland areas.
The dispute arose when the school boards and White Hat parted ways. The school boards wanted to change management companies, but White Hat said that by virtue of its contract, it owned the assets of the schools, and the boards would need to move to a new location and acquire their own equipment and supplies, or buy the assets of the school from White Hat.
The schools argued that the assets, purchased with public money, did not belong to White Hat.
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote the majority opinion in this case, granting White Hat the right to keep all of the assets purchased with the tens of millions of dollars the company received from the State of Ohio.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, Lanzinger has received nearly three thousand dollars in campaign contributions from GO-GO PAC, a shady political action committee whose primary donor is David Brennan, owner of White Hat Management.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor also supported Lanzinger’s decision .
O’Connor has received nearly $4,000 in campaign contributions from Brennan and his family. She’s also received $3,450.00 from online charter school operator Bill Lager, owner and operator of ECOT.
Justices Kennedy and French went even further, claiming that “the school boards literally turned all money and responsibilities over to White Hat as an independent contractor with no expectation of transparency in how the business would be conducted.”
French has received over $10,000 in contributions from Brenan’s family, his shady Go-Go PAC and his Main Street PAC, as well as $2,000 from Bill Lager, founder of the online charter school ECOT.
According to our most recent calculations, White Hat has received almost One Billion Dollars from the State of Ohio, while their schools continue to receive some of the lowest rankings in the state.