Schiavoni: Tighten charter rules

COLUMBUS – State Sen. Joe Schiavoni plans to introduce legislation to increase oversight of Ohio’s charter schools to be equivalent to what is found in traditional public districts.

The bill aims to strengthen charter school accountability and transparency as well as create uniform standards with traditional public schools by, among other things, requiring the state auditor to do an annual audit of each charter school; requiring the public records laws apply to charter schools; and prohibiting charter schools from using tax dollars for advertising, recruiting or promotional materials

Schiavoni, D-Boardman, serves as Columbiana County’s senator. Under his proposed bill, charter school teachers would be treated the same as public school teachers in terms of evaluation, licensing and pay scale. When charter school students transfer, their parents must be given state report cards for both schools.

The proposed bill would also require charter schools follow the same course of study requirements and disciplinary standards, and that school board members abide by the same standards, according to the Salem News.

Along with these new requirements, the legislation would also strengthen the charter school closure laws to prevent a repetition of failure in schools that the state deems unable to meet the necessary standards.

The legislation follows the recent introduction of Ohio’s new school report card system that grades both public and charter schools on the same scale. A recent study by the Columbus Dispatch found that 87 percent of the state’s charter school students attend a school that has either a D or an F in meeting state performance standards.

“This is not about the different approaches to education but the fundamental idea that every child deserves to attend a quality school,” Schiavoni said in a news release issued by his office announcing the bill.

“We need to be stringent on all schools in order to not only protect our taxpayers’ investments, but most importantly make certain that we are preparing our young people to be successful,” he said.