Arts on Line Education Update March 16, 2015

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
March 16, 2015

1) Ohio News

•131st General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold hearings and session this week. More details are available at This Week at the Statehouse below.

•Thorough and Efficient Clause to Stay: The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) Committee on Education, Public Institutions, and Local Government voted unanimously on March 12, 2015 to retain the “thorough and efficient” clause in Article VI Section 1 & 2 of the Ohio Constitution. Last April Chad Readler, the chair of the committee, proposed new wording for this section, which addresses primary and secondary education, and removed the “thorough and efficient” standard that the courts have used in the DeRolph school funding cases to determine what is constitutional. The recommendation will now go to the OCMC’s Coordinating Committee and the full commission for consideration.

The OCMC Coordinating Committee voted on March 12, 2015 to send three reports from the Bill of Rights and Voting Committee to the full commission for consideration in April. The reports recommend retaining current language in Article I, Section 2, concerning the right of the people to alter, reform, or abolish government, the right of government to repeal special privileges, and equal protection; Article I, Section 3, concerning the right to assemble and petition; and Article I, Section 4, concerning the right to bear arms, the prohibition against maintaining standing armies during peacetime, and the subordination of the military to civil power.

•JCARR Agenda Includes “Five of Eight Rule”: The “5 of 8 rule”, Ohio Administrative Code Rule (OAC) 3301-35-05 Faculty and Staff, is once again on the agenda of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) for their meeting on March 16, 2015. Last month the committee considered the request to rescind and adopt new Rules 3301-35 through 10, known as Operating Standards for Grades Kindergarten through Twelve. Rule 3301-35-05 was pulled and later re-filed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

The current rule requires school districts to employ five of eight educational service personnel for every 1000 students. Educational service personnel are defined as counselor, school nurse, librarian media specialist, school social worker, visiting teachers, and elementary art, music, and physical education teachers.

The definition of educational service personnel is broadened considerably in proposed Rule 3301-35-01 (B)(11) Definitions, but this rule was not pulled to be re-filed.

The amended rule 3301-35-05 states: “(A)(3) The local board of education shall be responsible for the scope and type of educational services in the district. The district shall employ educational service personnel to enhance the learning opportunities of all students. Educational service personnel assigned to elementary fine arts, music and physical education shall hold the special teaching certificate or multi-age license in the subject to which they are assigned.”

The JCARR meeting will be held at 1:30 PM on Monday, March 16, 2015 in the Statehouse Hearing Room 121.

•Safe Harbor Bill Heading to the Governor: The Ohio House concurred on March 10, 2015 with Senate amendments to HB7 (Buchy) Assessment Score Determination, sending the measure to Governor Kasich. The House vote was 90 to 0.

The bill as enrolled ensures that the scores on the new assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in math and English language arts, and AIR in science and social studies, do not affect decisions about student promotion, retention, or credits for classes. The bill does not impact retention guidelines tied to third grade reading test results.

The bill also clarifies that schools/districts will not lose state aid if students don’t take state assessments, and students will not lose their voucher if they refuse to take the state assessments. Once signed by the governor the law will go into effect immediately.

2) This Week at the Statehouse

•The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) will meet on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 1:30 PM in hearing room 121. The “five of eight” rule is on the agenda.

•The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Hayes, will meet on March 17, 2015 at 8:00 AM in hearing room 121 to receive testimony on HB74 (Brenner) Primary-Secondary Assessments and HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner) Charter School Sponsorship.

The committee will also meet on March 18, 2015 at 8:00 AM in hearing room 017 to receive testimony and consider amendments to HB74 (Brenner) Primary and Secondary Assessments.

•The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on March 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. The committee will consider the following bills:
-SB20 (Schiavoni) Charter Schools Record-Keeping: Regarding audit and record-keeping requirements for community school sponsors and operators.
-SB34 (Tavares) School District Policy-Disruptive Behavior: With respect to school district policies for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior.
-SB59 (Skindell) Community Schools-State Appropriated Funds: With respect to the use of state-appropriated funds by operators of community schools.
-SB3 (Hite/Faber) High Performing School District Exemption: To exempt high-performing school districts from certain laws.

•The House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, chaired by Representative Cupp, will meet on March 18, 2015 at 4:00 PM in hearing room 116 and on March 19, 2015 at 9:00 AM in hearing room 116. The committee will continue to receive testimony on HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.

3) Senate Committee Hears from Teachers: Hannah News and Gongwer reported last week that the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Peggy Lehner, invited teachers to address the committee on March 10, 2015 about testing and its effect on students, teachers, and schools.

According to the reports, the teachers included Becky Higgins, president of the Ohio Education Association (OEA); Chuck Rollins and George Scott from Van Wert Local Schools; Dan Greenberg from Sylvania City Schools; Kevin Jackson from Columbus City Schools; Angela Nichols from Cincinnati Public Schools; and Jackie Duncan.

The teachers told the Senate Education Committee that testing and test preparation have reduced instructional time for students. Jackie Duncan said that the time spent on the English language arts exams has nearly doubled from last year.

Angela Nichols-Cincinnati Public Schools explained that because the tests are high stakes, teachers have increased test preparation. She also told the committee that there were ways to ensure that subgroups of students, such as students with disabilities, students learning English, and disadvantaged students, are receiving a high quality education without over testing and over preparing. She suggested that assessments tied to instruction and intervention be administered three times per year to determine if students in subgroups are learning, and interventions be provided for students who do not meet benchmarks.

Becky Higgins -OEA said that student data should be used to improve instruction rather than other purposes, and recommended that the moratorium on using test results to grade students, schools, and teachers be extended to three years.

The teachers also gave support to the use of “student learning objectives” rather than “shared attribution” to evaluate teachers, but also opposed using student data for purposes other than improving instruction.

The teachers also described some of the technical problems with the administration of the state tests, and expressed concern about accommodations for students with disabilities.

See “Teachers Bring Testing Concerns to Senate Hearing”, Hannah News, March 10, 2015 at

See “Senate Hears Teachers’ View Of Testing Problems”, Gongwer, March 10, 2015 at

See “VWHS teachers testify on student testing”, The Van Wert Independent, March 12, 2015 at

4) Update on HB2: The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Hayes, was expected to review amendments for HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner) on March 9, 2015. However, the chair postponed action on the amendments due to the number of amendments submitted, and accepted more testimony on the measure on March 9, 2015 and March 11, 2015. The following witnesses provided written or in-person testimony:

March 9, 2015
Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director of the Ohio Newspaper Association
Darold Johnson, Joint testimony from the Ohio Federation of Teachers, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters Ohio, Ohio PTA, and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees
Dr. Richard Varatti, Quaker Digital Academy
Bill Phillis, Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding
Stephen Dyer, Innovation Ohio

March 11, 2015
Jennifer Dillard, American Association of University Women of Ohio
Denis Smith, Retired, ODE
Mary Addi and Mustafa Emanet

Most witnesses came prepared with a list of additional provisions to add to HB2 to improve transparency and accountability for charter schools. The following is a summary of some of those recommendations arranged by topics:

•Revamp charter school law completely:

Stephen Dyer told the committee that charter school problems are deeper than the provisions in HB2, and called for a complete rewrite of charter school law.

Darold Johnson and others said that HB2 is just the start of a process to reform charter school laws.

Bill Phillis added that HB2 needs to be “greatly expanded to bring this largely unregulated enterprise under control for the benefit of students and taxpayers.”

He went on to say, “A complete systematic overhaul of the charter regulations is required”, and called for the creation of a Legislative Office to Research Vouchers and Charter Schools.

According to Bill Phillis, all schools that operate in full or in part on public money should comply with the same rules and require public governance.

•Close poor performing charter schools faster:

There was some concern expressed by Stephen Dyer and others about the quality of education children are receiving in poor performing charter schools. He said that improving sponsor accountability is a start, but Ohio needs to close poor performing charter schools faster. He referred to the December 2014 CREDO study on Ohio’s charter schools, in which researchers reported that after three years poor performing charter schools seldom improve. Unfortunately charter schools in Ohio can fail for 6-7 years before closing.

Jennifer Dillard also asked that HB2 be amended to allow the ODE to close poor performing schools faster, and prevent poor performing charter schools from receiving public monies at the same level as local public schools that are doing well.

•Fund charter schools separately, and base funding on what is costs the charter to educate the child:

Bill Phillis recommended that charter schools be funded separately from the foundation program.

Stephen Dyer explained to the committee how the per pupil amount in state aid actually drops for school districts after funds for charter schools are deducted. He used Columbus as an example, and said that the per pupil amount for Columbus City Schools dropped from $3,774 per student to $2,711 per student, because school districts have to “backfill lost state revenue with local revenue.” The statewide average lost in state revenue is about $250 per student.

•Clarify that property purchased with public funds is public property:

This provision was supported by Darold Johnson, Stephen Dyer, and Bill Phillis.

•Prohibit for-profit management companies from operating, especially as they expand online opportunities:

This provision was supported by Darold Johnson, Denis Smith, and Bill Phillis. Denis Smith also recommended that the $500,000 threshold for sponsors be increased to $10 million. He said that the current threshold is inadequate and “…..does not allow sufficient capacity and expertise to do the work.”

Bill Phillis reported that charter schools have become “competitors of the traditional public system. The charter industry is essentially a counterfeit of the public common school.”

•Make surety bonds for low performing charters equal to the estimated amount they would receive from the state:

Darold Johnson and Bill Phillis asked the committee to include in the amendments the requirement that charter school sponsors have the fiscal capacity to re-pay the taxpayers of Ohio if any charter school closes prior to the end of the year.

•Require charter schools, sponsors, and management companies to adhere to the same laws and rules as traditional public schools regarding open records and meetings; filing reports with the Ohio Ethics Commission; and financial reporting:

Most witnesses recommended a variety of measures to increase transparency in operations for charter schools, sponsors, and management companies.

Bill Phillis explained to the committee that the current laws and rules for traditional public schools were passed to prevent nepotism, conflicts of interest, fraud, abuse of legal rights, segregation, etc. and these laws should apply to charter schools.

Darold Johnson suggested that criminal background checks should be conducted on all sponsors, school personnel, and management companies employees, and members of governing boards should file full financial disclosure reports and identify conflicts of interest.

Dennis Hetzel told the committee, “We note that public funding of charters likely will pass the $1 billion threshold under the proposed budget for 2017. However, there remains only minimal ability for the public to know how those dollars are being spent in many cases.”

He went on to describe the inability of Ohio journalists to report meaningfully on the activities of charter schools, because the schools and management companies refuse to comply with open records requests.

He suggested adding language in HB2 to clarify that charter schools and entities that they contract with must comply with RC149.43 – Open Records; requiring charter school officials to undergo Sunshine Law training; and including expenditures for charter schools on the website operated by Treasurer Mandel.

•The State perpetuates an inefficient system of schools:

Bill Phillis explained to the committee how the State demanded school districts to consolidate during the early 1900s to reduce inefficiencies and increase educational opportunities for students. About 3,500 school districts were consolidated into the current number of 613. But then lawmakers re-created a similar inefficient system by sanctioning the creation of close to 400 charter schools since 1999.

5) House Hears Testimony on HB74: The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Hayes, received testimony on March 11, 2015 on HB74 (Brenner) Primary and Secondary Assessments. Superintendents from several school districts testified about three provisions in HB74: Resident Educator Program, Selecting Assessments, and Teacher Evaluations.

Karen Mantia, Superintendent of the Lakota Local School District, asked the committee to amend HB74 to change the Resident Educator Program to address components that overlap now with the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). She said that in interviews with beginning teachers in the Resident Educator Program, she has found that they appreciate the first two years of the program, which includes mentoring and cooperation with other teachers, but are frustrated with years three and four and the amount of hours it takes to submit the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA). The results of the assessment are not available for six months, and the new teachers are often assessed by people who they have never met. She recommends that the Resident Educator Program be reduced from four to two years, and OTES be used to evaluate new teachers. In years three and four teachers should transition to the Individual Professional Development Plan.

David Hile, Superintendent of Licking Valley Local Schools and Brenda Boeke, Superintendent of Minster Local Schools, suggested that time and money could be saved if school districts were allowed to select their own assessments. They asked that the ODE identify high quality, research vetted assessments, and allow school districts to select appropriate exams for each grade band and report the results to the ODE. They said that over 300 school districts are already using Measured of Academic Progress (MAP) and 200 school districts are using Renaissance Learning’s STAR. They believe that they are better assessments than the state tests, and provide information about how to improve instruction more quickly than the state tests. They also use these assessments to identify gifted students.

According to their testimony, the ODE should also identify other assessments to use for kindergarten, and give school districts the option of using the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) or another assessment. They said that the KRA is not easy to administer and is not accurate.

The results of these assessments would be reported to the ODE, and, using crosswalks and concordance tables, the ODE would be able to create the state report cards.

Jeff Brown, Superintendent of Granville Exempted Village Schools, and Paul Imhoff, Superintendent of Upper Arlington City Schools, told the committee that the Teacher Performance Rubric used by principals to evaluate teachers through the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) is a very useful tool to improve teaching, but using value added data to evaluate teachers has created unintended consequences.

According to Superintendent Imhoff, because most teachers do not have value added data, “There are concerns about the equity of using these different data sources for such a high stakes purpose as teacher evaluation.”

They suggested eliminating student learning objectives, and using value-added data as part of the reflective process in the Teacher Performance Rubric, so that teachers would be evaluated on how they use data to improve student learning.

They also suggested that school districts be allowed to obtain a waiver to use value added data differently in the evaluation process.

6) Update on HB64: The House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, chaired by Senator Cupp, received testimony last week on HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget from private school groups, charter school groups, and several statewide education organizations, including the Ohio Association for Gifted Children and the Ohio Educational Service Center Association.

Gifted Education
Ann Sheldon, Executive Director of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children, described in testimony on March 12, 2015 the inadequate funding system for gifted education; the lack of accountability for gifted spending, identification, and services for gifted students; concerns about the testing restrictions included in HB64 and the use of the PARCC test to identify gifted students; and concerns about the de-regulation recommendations for high performing school districts included in HB64.

According to the testimony, while gifted students represent 16 percent of the student population in Ohio, only 23 percent of this population is being served. And, while $72 million would be allocated through HB64 for gifted education, the lack of strong accountability requirements for school district spending on gifted education means that only about $3.8 million in Educational Service Center funding is “undisputedly” dedicated for gifted coordinators and intervention specialist units.

Ms. Sheldon requested the following be added to the HB64 (Smith):

Gifted Funding:
•Restore gifted ESC funding back to the 2011/2012 level of $8.1 million. “ESCs supporting smaller, low-wealth districts should be given priority in funding. We also ask that the cap on gifted funding in the education funding formula be removed and that gifted funding be moved outside of the transitional aid guarantee to allow more funding to flow to smaller districts.”

•Increase the level of accountability for gifted funding by requiring all districts to spend gifted funding in the foundation formula on identification and appropriately licensed gifted personnel. “Districts showing great promise in the area of gifted performance could be waived from this requirement.”
•Require ODE to collect and post data on gifted services offered by each district by grade band as well as the number of licensed gifted personnel employed or contracted by the district.
•Revise the sub-group accountability language in law to allow ODE to use the full gifted performance indicator to gauge the success of the gifted sub-group. •Require districts to provide gifted services that are either accelerated or supported at minimum levels by qualified gifted intervention specialists.

•Exempt assessments to identify gifted students from the testing limits, and discontinue the use of PARCC assessments for gifted identification until the assessments are reviewed for this purpose through the established ODE process for reviewing and approving tests for use in gifted screening/identification.

Other Provisions:
•Remove the provisions that allow the state superintendent to waive any law, rule, or standards at his discretion; add to the definition of high-performing districts that all sub-group value-added grades be at least a “B” or higher; and allow districts to keep the high performing designation for two years if their overall and sub-group value-added measures are maintained.
•Develop alternative service models for gifted students, such as regional gifted schools, expanded community schools for gifted children in areas of high need, open enrollment, and vouchers. Allow the Straight A Fund to be used to support gifted education initiatives.
•Revise or remove the provision in current law that allows principals and others to serve as gifted coordinators.
•Revise or remove the limitations on the College and Credit Plus program; allow the highest district weight be applied to any CC+ course a student takes; increase funding to ensure that all students can access CC+, including public students who wish to access private CC+ courses; target additional funds and awards to the neediest districts; retain provisions that allow students to take CC+ courses with no charge.

Gifted Education
Judy Chaffins, Director of Gifted Education, Allen County Educational Service Center, told the committee that there is great confusion and misinformation about state funding for gifted education, and as a result, the level of formal services for gifted students in Allen County “have been dramatically cut”. The program, which served 300 students in 2009, now serves 136 students for the 2014-15 school year.

This is in spite of the fact that Allen County school districts received $649,974,000 in the 2014-15 school year for gifted education. She states, “Most of the public, including many administrators, are unaware there are funds in school budgets designated for gifted. Some treasurers have informed me they do not get any “gifted funding” anymore. Some say they have to use it for “all” their students, not just the “gifted” ones.”

There is also a belief that general education teachers can provide services to gifted students through differentiated instruction. Unfortunately general education teachers are not adequately trained to deliver education through this model, and there is little evidence that it is effective.

According to the testimony, “The bottom line is simple: funding needs to be tied to trained gifted personnel, and it was less complicated when it went directly to the Educational Service Centers instead of the districts. Funding also needs to cover the total cost of the employee and not put a burden on districts or ESCs to use other money to help support the positions. However, if districts are given the money, they need to be held accountable for its intended use.”

Educational Service Centers (ESC)
Craig Burford, Executive Director of the Ohio Educational Service Center Association, described the roles and responsibilities of ESCs to implement federal, state, and regional education initiatives and school improvement efforts “assigned to the service centers by the general assembly or the department of education”.

He told the committee that HB64 reduces funding for ESCs by 5.8 percent in FY16 and 20 percent in FY17, which will compound the impact of the reductions that ESCs received in the last budget. “The proposal fails to recognize that ESCs play a critical role in the deployment of such statewide initiatives. It is contrary to the recommendations of the State Board of Education which recommended flat funding.”

According to the testimony, HB64 should be amended to include the following:
•Retain current ESC funding levels as recommended by the state board of education and provide funding to include the additions of Cincinnati, Columbus and Southwestern City School Districts;
•Remove the ability for “high performing” districts to opt out of the alignment to an ESC;
•Remove the ability for “high performing” districts to opt out of consulting with an ESC regarding the provision of services to students with disabilities;
•Utilize ESCs in the statewide deployment of professional development and technical assistance;
•Allow ESCs to lead consortia of districts related to the competency-based education pilots;
•Enable ESCs to lead consortia applications for the Community Connectors initiative;
•Continued transition toward full-funding of the 6-weight special education cost-based funding model; and
•Full funding of ESC gifted coordination units.

He concluded by saying, “In closing, the executive budget proposals aimed at ESCs appear to be inconsistent with the needs of Ohio’s school districts, inconsistent with the needs of the Ohio Department of Education, inconsistent with the recommendations of the state board of education and inconsistent with the requirements that Ohio have a state system of support under both federal and state law.”

Private Schools
Dan Dodd, director of the Ohio Association of Independent Schools (OAIS), requested that HB64 clarify that private schools can choose their own criteria for issuing diplomas, rather than administer the seven end of course exams. He also said that private school participation in the College Credit Plus program should be optional, because some of the requirements might not align with the philosophy or standards of the school.

Rabbi Yitz Frank, Ohio director of Agudath Israel of American, asked the committee to increase the EdChoice scholarship for high schools to $5,900 in FY16 and $6,000 in FY17. He told the committee, “…we believe that assigning funding parity to students who wish to attend a different school than their local public school is appropriate.” The scholarship is increased in HB64 from $5000 to $5,700. The Rabbi also requested that HB64 permit private schools to administer the ACT in lieu of the seven end of course exams.

Larry Keough, representing the Catholic Conference Ohio, also requested increases in the EdChoice scholarship from $5,000 to $8,500 for high schools and from $4,250 to $5,000 for K-8.

Jason Warner, legislative director at School Choice Ohio, also requested an increase in the EdChoice scholarship and the Cleveland scholarship to keep in line with the statewide average cost of private school tuition. He also requested that the caps on the Jon Peterson Special Needs and the Ohio Autism be raised to scholarships to $27,000 annually.

Charter Schools
John Zitzner, president of Friends of Breakthrough Schools, asked the committee to consider some unintended consequences of proposed changes for charter schools. He said that Breakthrough Schools employs a fiscal officer for several of its schools to save money. The bill would require that each fiscal officer be appointed by the governing authority and work independently from the management company. Instead, governing authorities should have the option to hire their own fiscal officers or contract services through an operator.

Regarding the $25 million charter school facilities fund, he said that some high performing charter schools might not be eligible for these funds if their sponsor is not exemplary. The sponsor rating system is being implemented for the first time, and so he recommended that high performing schools, rather than sponsors, be eligible for money through the fund.

The testimony is available at

7) The Public/Private Dilemma for Policy Makers Regarding Charter Schools: State Auditor David Yost identified the policy quagmire that stands in the way of meaningful accountability for charter schools in Ohio in a commentary published in the Columbus Dispatch on March 10, 2015.

As policy makers create more and more public and private hybrid entities, he asks the question, “How do we protect the public interest while harnessing the best qualities of a mostly private-sector actor?”

To develop a rigorous accountability system for charter schools in Ohio, policy makers will have to address conflicting purposes and goals. Not doing so has consequences for children, families, communities, and tax payers.

He writes, “If we were to require such entities to comply with the accountability measures that apply to the public sector, we would lose most of the benefit of using a hybrid structure. Innovation, speed and nimbleness simply don’t happen in a government structure.”

“At the same time, it’s mostly or all our money and, therefore, the public’s business. Somehow, treating these entities — usually private corporations — as though they were a sole proprietorship, operating in private, doesn’t seem right, either.”

He then offers some examples of practices that should be applicable for public/private entities and strengthen accountability:

•Require certain relevant information be provided to the public at particular intervals.
•Verify certain information independently, such as through a certified public accountant or another body.
•Segregate certain duties and responsibilities.
•Require independent governing boards to ensure divergent points of view and oversight of management decisions.

How these practices are weighted depends, he writes, on “how much discretion the entity has in exercising the authority of the state”. Hybrid entities exercising little authority would not be required to comply with the more stringent rules and laws that entities with a high authority must follow.

Where the accountability lines are drawn is still being debated in Ohio, but there should be agreement that the stakes are high when the education of our children and close to $1 billion in taxpayers funds are involved.

See “Dave Yost commentary: Public-private hybrids raise accountability questions”, by David Yost, Columbus Dispatch, March 10, 2015 at

Legal Status of Charter Schools

Researchers at the University of Connecticut, Rutgers, and Montclair State published on January 21, 2015 an article that examines “how courts have treated the hybrid nature of charter schools in a variety of state statutory contexts”, including governmental immunity, accountability, prevailing wage, student expulsion requirements, and more.

According to the authors, “While charter schools are generally characterized as ‘public schools,’ courts have had a difficult time determining their legal status because charter schools exhibit both public and private characteristics.”

In most of the cases reviewed in the article the courts have agreed that charter schools are public entities and subject to the same treatment as other public entities in several cases.

In three cases, however, the courts held that charter schools were not public entities under state statutes.

In one of these cases the Supreme Court of California found the charter school was not entitled to immunity, because they were “operated by non-profit corporations that had substantial freedom from the requirements to which school districts were subject.”

In another case the Court of Appeals of New York found that charter schools were not public entities under the state’s prevailing wage statute.

In the third case a California appellate court held that charter schools were not subject to the same student expulsion requirements as traditional public schools, because the expulsion provision in law didn’t apply to charter schools.

The courts have also ruled on the question “Are Charter School Officials Public Officials?”

According to the authors, in three cases the courts held that charter school officials are public officials who are subject to the same treatment as other public officials.

The article also reviewed three cases regarding educational management organizations (EMO) and whether or not they are public entities subject to the same requirements or protections as public entities.

In one case an Ohio appellate court found that an EMO and principal employed by the EMO are not entitled to governmental immunity under the state’s tort liability act, because the statute did not identify EMOs as political subdivisions that were
entitled to immunity. The court also found that charter schools did not qualify as “bodies corporate and politic” under the statute, because the courts had defined this term to cover only public organizations.

In another Ohio case, an Ohio appellate court held that an EMO was not a public official with a fiduciary duty to return property to charter schools, because the corporation obtained the property from its own income derived from former public funds. This case, Hope Academy Broadway Campus v. White Hat Management, has been appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

In another case, a Pennsylvania appellate court found that charter school records controlled by an EMO were still public records, because they were related to a governmental function. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania later remanded the case.

According to the authors, these cases identify some areas for legislative changes, because the courts relied heavily on the statutory language in the decisions, and have had to interpret the intent of legislatures when the statutory language is not clear.

In the case Hope Academy Broadway Campus v. White Hat Management, the Ohio Supreme Court is reviewing an appellate court’s decision that the EMO, White Hat Management, had a fiduciary duty to return property purchased with public funds to the charter schools that it was managing. The attorney for White Hat is claiming that the EMO is not a public official, and the property purchased is not public property.

According to the authors, “This position is disturbing, especially in light of the fact that the Ohio legislature has a constitutional duty to provide a ‘thorough and efficient system of common schools.’ 238 One wonders whether a system that allows EMOs to abscond with millions of dollars in publicly funded school equipment is truly ‘efficient’.”

The authors suggest that state legislatures adopt language from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, requiring that all “instructional materials, furnishings, and equipment purchased or developed with public funds be the property of the school, and not a third party.”

The authors also recommend that state legislatures ensure that charter school statutes specify that charter schools must comply with public school due process provisions, in response to decisions about student expulsions, dismissals, and violations of due process rights. Cases in California, Hawaii, and Maine all raise questions about a student’s right to a free public education, and what rights students give-up when they enroll in a “school of choice.”

See “The Legal Status of Charter Schools in State Statutory Law” by Preston C. Green III, University of Connecticut; Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University, and Joseph Oluwole, Montclair State University, University of Massachusetts Law Review, Forthcoming, January 21, 2015 at

8) Bills Introduced

HB120 (Schuring) Innovation Grant Program: To create the Ohio Higher Education Innovation Grant Program and to make an appropriation.

HB114 (Roegner/Bishoff) School Door Barricade: To require the Board of Building Standards to adopt rules for the use of a barricade device on a school door in an emergency situation and to prohibit the State Fire Code from prohibiting the use of the device in such a situation.

SB122 (Gentile) Homestead Exemption: To extend eligibility for the homestead exemption to elderly or disabled homeowners who did not receive the exemption for 2013 and have $30,000 or more in Ohio adjusted gross income.

SB125 (LaRose/Hottinger) School Emergency Barricade Device: To require the Board of Building Standards to adopt rules for the use of a barricade device on a school door in an emergency situation and to prohibit the State Fire Code from prohibiting the use of the device in such a situation.

SB126 (Sawyer) Interdistrict Open Enrollment: To require a study of interdistrict open enrollment not later than July 1, 2017, and to terminate interdistrict open enrollment on that date with the possibility of renewal following the General Assembly’s examination of the study’s findings.


Congratulation to Ohio’s Poetry Out Loud Winners! The Ohio Arts Council announced on March 9, 2015 that Sarah Binau, a senior at Bexley High School, is the winner of Ohio’s 10th Poetry Out Loud State Finals. The finals were held on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Columbus where Ms. Binau recited three poems: “After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost, “Onions” by William Matthews, and “The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet.

The award includes a prize of $300, $500 for her school’s library to purchase poetry books, and an all-expense paid trip to compete for a $20,000 prize in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C., on April 27-29, 2015.

Second place was awarded to Lake Wilburn, who is the 2014 state champion and national runner-up. He is a senior at Centennial High School in Columbus and received a prize of $200 and earned $200 for his school library.

Third place was awarded to Ares Harper, a senior from Columbus Alternative High School in Columbus, who received $100, and $50 for the school library.

Students who earned honorable mentions include Anna McMurchy, a senior at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, finished fourth; Genevieve Urban, a freshman at The Lyceum in South Euclid, finished fifth; and Xander Borne, a senior at Green High School in Green, finished sixth.

According to a press release from the Ohio Arts Council, “More than 9,000 students from nearly 60 schools around Ohio participated in Poetry Out Loud competitions this year. After classroom-level and school-wide contests, 34 students remained to compete in the final event. They performed classic and contemporary poems for a panel of poetry and performance experts. Students were awarded points for voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, level of complexity, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance.”

Ohio’s Poetry Out Loud champions have also successfully competed at the national level. Jackson Hille was the nation’s first Poetry Out Loud winner in 2006; Lake Wilburn was last year’s national runner-up; Mido Aly was among the top five national finalists in 2009; and Taribo Osuobeni, received an honorable mention in 2013.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council. The program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry, master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and study their literary heritage.


This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.  The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities.  The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (, Ohio Art Education Association (, Ohio Educational Theatre Association (; OhioDance (, and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (


About OAAE

It is the mission of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to ensure that the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. We believe that: * All children in school must have quality arts education provided by licensed arts educators * All Ohioans have the right to expect quality arts education * All arts programs must have adequate resources * All arts and cultural organizations and artists have a critical role in arts education Learn more at
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