State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) today introduced legislation to enhance accountability and oversight for Ohio charter schools. 

The comprehensive reform package challenges charter schools to raise their academic and financial standards. While it facilitates the process of shutting down low-performing, poorly managed charter schools, it also makes it easier for high-performing schools to expand and replicate. In an effort to improve charter school governance, the bill clarifies and delineates the roles and responsibilities of charter school sponsors, operators, governing boards and the Ohio Department of Education.

"The bottom line is that Ohio taxpayers are not getting the results they expect from many charter schools," said Lehner. "This legislation reflects the input of education leaders from around the state who have worked for nearly a year to recommend policy changes that will move Ohio charter schools in a better direction." 

Like a similar charter school reform bill passed by the Ohio House of Representatives last month, the Senate bill incorporates findings from top education researchers. A recent study released by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that Ohio charter school students, on average, make less academic progress than their district counterparts and demonstrated the clear need in Ohio to address the issue of charter school quality. A second study from Bellwether Education Partners analyzed Ohio charter law and made recommendations for improvement, many of which are included in this legislation. 

"In the past we've left room for innovation and experimentation without putting up the sort of guardrails that would ensure responsible governance," Lehner said. "We must find a way to weed out bad actors without adding undue burden to schools that already deliver excellent instruction. This legislation will take us much closer to achieving that goal. I look forward to working with the House and the Governor's office to pass a reform bill that will put Ohio at the forefront of high-quality charter schools."

The bill will now go to a Senate committee for further consideration.

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