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Ohioans, activists demand accountability for charter schools raided by FBI

January 28, 2015

Ohioans, activists demand accountability for charter schools raided by FBI

January 28, 2015

Dayton-area Concept Schools have a history of well-documented problems.

Contact: Mark McCullough, 202.724.6983 Download letter

Schools plagued by poor academic performance and allegations of wrongdoing

Columbus, OH – This week, a coalition that includes parents, teachers, students, and a leading national government watchdog sent a letter to the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation urging the organization not to renew charters for troubled charter school operator Concept Schools, Inc. State law stipulates that the deadline for such a decision to be made is February 1.

Dayton-area Concept schools have a well-documented history of problems, including:

- The FBI raided Concept in June as part of an investigation into “white-collar crime,” self-dealing, and the apparent misuse of federal money meant for the neediest students. - Concept schools have a history of being of being insensitive to African-American students, including an incident in which a former teacher testified that a principal took no action against another teacher who referred to African-American students as “monkeys” and “dogs.” - Following allegations of test tampering, Innovation Ohio analyzed test scores at a Concept-run school and found a huge disparity between student scores on the independently administered ACT exams and their scores on state tests. - A September 2014 ProgressOhio study documented a pattern of cheating, as well as the hiring of felons and other unqualified teachers. -  In the Ohio state government’s school report cards, many of Concept’s schools have received poor ratings for academic performance, including an F on “key indicators met.”

Their letter, sent earlier this week to Peggy Young, the Education Division Director at Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, detailed these and more reasons why Concept Schools should not have their charters renewed. This morning, members of the coalition hosted a press briefing to discuss steps that Buckeye Community Hope Foundation can take to protect taxpayers and students from these poorly run schools.

“It’s just not good enough for elected officials to say their hands are tied when it comes to authorizers that sponsor and renew bad schools,” said Donald Cohen, Executive Director of In the Public Interest.

Amy Hanauer, Executive Director of Policy Matters Ohio, said, “We’ve done a lot of research on Ohio charter schools, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen a charter school operator, Concept Schools Inc., hit the trifecta: poor academic performance, allegations of wrongdoing from former teachers, and an FBI raid.”

Lisa Mack, of the Ohio PTA, said, “Ohio PTA believes that all schools should be accountable to provide a high-quality education and provide welcoming and safe environments to assure that every child’s potential becomes a reality.”

David Quolke, of the Cleveland Teachers Union, said, “We need Buckeye to step up and say no to Concept’s schools. And, if sponsors act like rubber stamps, we need the state to ban the sponsor from authorizing any new schools.”

“What parents want is for Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and other sponsors to be our allies, not enablers of charter schools that are failing to serve students’ and taxpayers’ interests,” said Laura Ball, a public school parent and member of Common Good Ohio.

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