COLUMBUS – Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) announced several changes to further improve Senate Bill 298, legislation that would bring more accountability and transparency to Ohio’s online charter schools. The new substitute bill addresses suggestions that were raised by legislators and interested parties throughout the four legislative committee hearings on SB 298. 

“This sub bill demonstrates why public input is critical to the legislative process. We listened to suggestions and strengthened the bill to address the problems we’ve seen in Ohio’s e-schools,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Hopefully, legislators will continue to honor the process by giving this bill a vote and a fair chance at passage.”

One of the additions to Senate Bill 298 affirms that e-schools must “provide” rather than “offer” 920 hours of learning opportunities to students in each academic year. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) argued in a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Education that the law does not require e-schools to actively educate students as long as class materials are made available online.

“The Department of Education and the courts have said current law requires e-schools to actually teach their students and not just offer classes.  But ECOT continues to claim it does not have to fulfill this basic function of a public school,” said Senator Schiavoni.

Some of the additional changes include:

  • Adds a provision that when the Auditor issues a Finding for Recovery from an audit of a community school, that money is returned to the school district;
  • Removes the provision that would limit blended learning schools to schools sponsored by exemplary rated sponsors only;
  • Exempts district sponsored e-schools from the requirements of the bill;
  • Removes the provision that would eliminate career tech funding for e-schools. 

After four hearings, Senate Bill 298 is currently stalled in the Senate Finance Committee. State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) plans to introduce companion legislation to Substitute Senate Bill 298 with the above changes in the Ohio House.

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