As you outlined in your March 27 editorial “Charter changes,” financial disclosure and accountability for public charter schools are critical. An Ohio House bill should go further in two ways.
It should require all charter school operators’ financial records to be publicly audited and disclosed. Now, accountability for the millions of public tax dollars sent to charter schools is lost once the money is given to the operator.
Traditional public schools have at least two audits each year. Why set up a separate fiscal accountability system for public charter schools that have the same responsibility to our kids?
The status of a private operator should not exempt charter schools from being accountable to the public. Such a relationship should demand accountability as part of doing business with Ohio taxpayers.
The bill should also establish requirements that prohibit a charter school from reopening under a new name with the same sponsor, operator, board, or treasurer. Under current state law, charter schools that close under a definition other than “permanent closure” are exempt from limitations on reopening.
To ensure that poorly performing charter schools that have closed for any reason do not reopen without making major administrative changes, it is critical that we clarify the language of the law.
The Ohio 8 Coalition — an alliance of urban school superintendents and teacher union presidents — partners with high-performing charter schools in our communities to ensure that students, regardless of their school setting, are receiving a high-quality education. High-quality learning environments are more likely to exist in places where financial accountability and administrative transparency are demanded.
Holding public charter schools and their operators and traditional public schools to the same financial reporting and auditing standards, and ensuring that school closure requirements close existing loopholes, will help us achieve this collective goal.
Toledo Federation of Teachers
South Byrne Road