An educational service center in Northeast Ohio is in trouble with the state Department of Education after trying to open a charter school in southern Ohio. StateImpact Ohio's Bill Rice reports the ESC is accused of trying to circumvent the law.
Department of Education spokesman John Charlton says the Portage County Educational Service Center violated at least three rules in sponsoring what was being called Hope4Change Academy.
First, Portage County ESC isn’t authorized to sponsor new charter schools because of the poor performance of its existing ones.
Second, state law only allows an ESC to sponsor charter schools in its own territory or adjoining counties, and the Hope4Change location is more than 250 miles away, in Cincinnati.
And third, administrators at Portage County ESC tried to open the school using the facilities and identification number of a previously closed charter school, VLT Academy.
Charlton says the school had already recruited about thirty students before the department stepped in.
"We’ve ordered that school now to make sure that they share that information with the Cincinnati schools and Cincinnati diocese and other schools in the area, so that these students can be placed into legitimate schools," he says.
An ODE press release says Portage County ESC has “ so completely disregarded" state law that it is reporting the superintendent, Dewey Chapman, and vice president Cheryl Emrich to the state’s Office of Professional Conduct for investigation. ODE has ordered the ESC to cease all activities already being undertaken, such as hiring teachers and staff. The ESC has not returned phone calls seeking comment.