When an Ohio charter school consistently fails to meet academic standards, the state automatically shuts it down. It’s an aspect of Ohio law that’s touted as one of the toughest standards for charter schools in the nation, but a report from Policy Matters Ohio found some charter schools might be evading the rule altogether.
In Cincinnati, the W.E.B. DuBois Academy in Over-the-Rhine was put on the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) closure list in 2009. According to the Policy Matters report, the same school and some of the staff remain, but under a different name: Cincinnati Speech and Reading Intervention Center (CSR). Before 2009, DuBois Academy was CSR’s sister school, but the schools essentially merged after DuBois Academy was shut down.
The story of DuBois Academy and CSR is apparently being replicated around the state. Six other facilities took part in mergers or expansions and reopened under new names shortly after state-mandated closure.
In a statement, Piet van Lier, the report’s co-author, called the loophole a “systemic flaw” that undermines Ohio’s education system: “Until Ohio strengthens its charter-closure law, the state will continue to fall short of the goal of improving public education for all Ohio’s children.”
The report suggests legislators revamp charter school closure laws and strengthen ODE’s oversight of charter schools. It also wants legislators to direct ODE to refuse the kind of expansions and mergers that keep closed facilities open and hold charter school companies more accountable.