Education

Charter School Chief Resigns, Erases F Grades

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The state official who oversees charter schools, David Hansen, resigned Saturday after acknowledging that he erased failing marks for the sponsors of two online charter schools.

Hansen was the School Choice director for the Ohio Department of Education. His wife, Beth, is Gov. John R. Kasich’s chief of staff and is expected to resign from that position to become his presidential campaign manager.

Hansen’s resignation comes one day after state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-33, wrote a letter to state Auditor David Yost requesting that his office conduct “a special audit to determine whether the Ohio Department of Education properly rated [charter school] sponsors and fully complied with state law.”

Hansen said last week that he omitted F grades for online and dropout recovery schools from state evaluations of charter school sponsors, explaining that he believed the failing marks would overshadow good marks in other measurements.

Said Schiavoni in his letter to Yost, “The exclusion of this data, which measures the performance of online charter schools, may have illegally inflated the ratings of the schools’ sponsors.”

The two charter school sponsors whose F grades were scrubbed are the Ohio Council of Community Schools, a nonprofit whose 14,000 students attend Ohio Virtual Academy, and the Ohio Distance & Electronic Learning Academy, the online school operated by White Hat Management. David Brennan, the owner of White Hat, has donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates in Ohio.

On Friday the Ohio Department of Education said it is “retracting the community school sponsor evaluations that have been completed so far. The Department will be seeking input from independent experts to make sure the methodology for evaluating all sponsors, including those already evaluated, is credible, accurate and compliant.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.