By Denise Dick
State Auditor Dave Yost believes more oversight of the state’s charter schools is needed.
His office is conducting a special audit that will include recommendations for reform, Yost said Monday in a meeting with The Vindicator editorial board and a reporter.
The report, which will be presented to the state Legislature, will examine “what kind of vetting is occurring and what kind of supervision of the vetting is occurring,” among other things, he said.
“The whole system as far as oversight is in need of reform,” Yost said.
He said he is a supporter of school choice and has seen children’s lives changed for the better because they have an option.
Yost listed Cleveland’s Breakthrough Academies and Dayton Early College Academy Prep charter schools as such examples.
But his office has been aggressive in trying to root out problems at charter schools that don’t follow the rules. More than half of all findings for recovery issued by his office have been against charter schools, Yost said.
Problems with charter schools have received a lot of media attention. Most recently, state audits found public dollars spent to finance the citizenship process for Turkish employees of Horizon and Noble academies, according to the Akron Beacon-Journal. There is a Horizon Science Academy in Youngstown.
That followed a December 2013 letter to the Ohio Department of Education by a former teacher at one of the Horizon Science Academy schools who charged that students deemed at risk were kept out of class during standardized testing and school officials filled out the test answers.
Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party chairman, issued a statement Monday saying Yost and Gov. John Kasich are “ideologically blind” to address the problem of failing charter schools.
“Where can taxpayers turn for protection when faced with such a systematic failure of government accountability across the board?” Redfern’s statement says. “In order to have an Ohio Department of Education that will put students and taxpayers first over corporate charter-school executives, we need change in Columbus.”
Yost said his report also will look at “dollars and accountability with data.”
Auditors will determine if the schools followed their own as well as Ohio Department of Education procedures regarding testing guidelines, he said.