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Probe Charter School Fiasco

As Ohio legislators and public education officials continue cleaning up years of mistakes regarding charter schools, precisely what went wrong is not known fully.

It is clear much of the fiasco involving taxpayer subsidies for private charter schools was because they were subject to very little oversight, either academically or financially. That is being corrected.

But in a few situations, accountability was supposed to be required but was tainted by misbehavior on the part of those responsible. One of those cases, about three years ago, involved data intended to show how well charter schools were performing.

At the time, David Hansen was the state Department of Education’s chief for charter school oversight. But in 2015, he admitted leaving some data out of reports about charter schools that were not doing well. The omissions made the schools appear to be more effective than they were.

Hansen resigned. At the time, he insisted Richard Ross, then state school superintendent, knew about the data omissions. Ross said he did not.

Last week, state Auditor David Yost released a report on the episode. He concluded his office could not determine whether “malicious intent” or mistakes were to blame.

More needs to be known about what happened — and about other missteps, either intentional or inadvertent — that allowed some charter schools to continue reaping taxpayer dollars while not sowing the seeds of knowledge adequately among students.

This is not a political issue, though some view it as a Democrats vs. Republicans duel. Both sides ought to want to know more about what went wrong, to keep anything similar from happening again.


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