Democratic candidate for auditor says state shouldn’t use public tax dollars to fund failing charter schools

By David Skolnick


State Rep. John Patrick Carney, Democratic candidate for Ohio auditor, said he’s concerned the state is using public tax dollars to fund failing charter schools.

Carney said the recent state report card shows $2.6 million in state funding moving from public schools with “A” rankings to charter schools with a grade of “D” or worse. Carney had a Monday news conference to discuss the issue at the Boardman office of the Ohio Education Association, a union that represents about 120,000 teachers, faculty and support staff in elementary and secondary schools, and universities.

“Charter schools have been siphoning off money from high-performing public schools here in the Mahoning Valley,” Carney said. “Unfortunately, [it’s having a] detrimental impact on the community here and the young people who are striving to get the education they need to seek their own American Dream.”

Statewide, $83.5 million has been transferred from “A” rated public schools to “F” rated charter schools, he said.

Carney blames his opponent, incumbent Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, for not making charter schools accountable with public money. He said that Yost has received thousands of dollars from operators of charter schools and those owners have benefited from weak oversight by the auditor’s office and other Republicans in statewide elected office.

“It’s a sad day when campaign contributors get more of the focus of your public dollars than the local children in your community and the schools that are doing an excellent job educating those folks,” Carney said.

Yost told The Vindicator last month that more oversight of charter schools is needed, and his office is conducting a special audit that will include recommendations for reform. He also pointed out that more than half of all findings for recovery issued by his office have been against charter schools — even though he’s a school-choice supporter.

In response to Carney’s statements Monday, Brittany Halpin, Yost’s campaign spokeswoman, said: “Here are the facts: Auditor Dave Yost found more than $9 million in stolen or misspent public money in Ohio’s charter schools, turned 22 corrupt officials into convicted criminals and partnered with the FBI to put a notorious charter-school crook behind bars. The message is clear — under Auditor Yost’s watch, charter schools must follow the law or face the law.”

The “notorious charter school crook,” Halpin said, is Carl W. Shye Jr., former fiscal officer for Legacy Academy for Leaders and the Arts, which had a school in Youngstown. Shye was convicted in 2012 of embezzling $470,000 in federal funding.

“Rep. Carney has made it obvious that he’s not paying attention,” said Halpin, who pointed to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office, which prosecuted Shye, praising Yost for assisting with the investigation.

When asked about how his campaign is doing in light of numerous setbacks with Democrat Ed FitzGerald’s gubernatorial bid, Carney said he’s had recent polling done that has him in a dead-heat with Yost and that 57 percent of those who support Republican Gov. John Kasich would prefer to have a Democrat in the auditor’s office.

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