A major Ohio newspaper published a tendentious article about ProgressOhio, one of the many organizations that are dissatisfied with Franklin County’s discrepancy in prosecuting people involved in the Columbus Public Schools data-scrubbing scandal and not even investigating education officials in the Ohio Department of Education who scrubbed the data from poor performing charter schools:
ProgressOhio, a left-leaning political group and ardent foe of charter schools, sees an imbalance in two notable education-related scandals.
Former Columbus City Schools Superintendent Gene Harris was sentenced to a year of probation for a dereliction-of-duty charge related to the school district’s data-scrubbing scandal. But a charter-school booster has faced no repercussions for putting a thumb on the scale in evaluating state charter-school sponsors.
The group wants Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to have a grand jury investigate the actions of David Hansen, former school-choice administrator for the Ohio Department of Education. Hansen admitted that, when evaluating sponsors of charter schools, he omitted low-scoring online schools, which made their sponsors’ performance look better than it was.
Hansen also made misstatements in a grant application to the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that Ohio has no poor-performing charter schools, when the state has many. The department had awarded the grant to Ohio but suspended it when officials learned of the discrepancy.
Hansen resigned in July.
A statement by the group said, “State lawmakers recently passed meaningful charter-school reform, but (ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy) Theis said additional reforms are needed, and the type of accountability a grand jury can provide is long overdue.”
In a letter to O’Brien, Theis suggested that Hansen’s actions involving the data and the grant application could have constituted crimes, including tampering with records, obstructing official business, falsification and dereliction of duty. Columbus Dispatch, 1/6/16 @ https://shar.es/16l2Jk
The story began with a biased assumption in its very first sentence: “ProgressOhio, a left-leaning political group and ardent foe of charter schools, sees an imbalance in two notable education-related scandals.”
Whether one is left-leaning, right-leaning, or standing straight up in the middle makes no difference at all when talking about Ohio charters.
Neither should the act of exposing charter school scandals label one as an ardent foe. That’s just good journalism.
What this high-ranking ODE official did was against the law. He didn’t just “put a thumb on the scale in evaluating state charter-school sponsors,” nor did he simply “make misstatements in a grant application to the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that Ohio had no poor-performing charter schools.”
He deleted charter school scores to rank them higher and then lied to the USDOE to illegally secure a $71 million grant to expand Ohio’s failed system of charter schools.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien needs to thoroughly investigate these unscrupulous practices and prosecute all of the key players at ODE, as well as their legislative ringleaders, to the same extent as what happened to former CCS Supt. Gene Harris and her team.
The Columbus Dispatch also needs to investigate this ODE charter school scandal that took place in its own backyard, and present complete coverage comparable to the newspaper’s intensive “Counting Kids Out” series about the Columbus Public Schools.
We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together we will save PUBLIC EDUCATION.