Senator Schiavoni Introduces E-School Reform Bill
Legislation addresses issues with student attendance and spending of tax dollars

(Columbus)—Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) will introduce legislation to strengthen attendance requirements for online charter schools known has “e-schools.”  The legislation follows revelations in the Columbus Dispatch that Provost Academy, an online school based in Columbus, over-billed taxpayers by nearly $800,000 by exaggerating student attendance.

“We need to make sure that online schools are accurately reporting attendance and not collecting tax dollars for students who never log in to take classes,” said Senator Schiavoni.  “Online schools must be held accountable for lax attendance policies.  Without strong oversight, these schools could be collecting millions of dollars while failing to educate Ohio’s school children.”

Senator Schiavoni’s comprehensive legislation includes, among other provisions, the following reforms:

Strengthens attendance reporting requirements

  • Requires e-schools to keep an accurate record of the number of hours each individual student actively participates in coursework each day. The information must be reported to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) on a monthly basis and be made available on the Department’s website. 
  • If a student fails to log in for 10 consecutive days, the e-school must notify ODE, the student’s parent/guardian, and the district of residence.
  • Requires student participation logs to be checked for accuracy on a monthly basis by a qualified teacher.  (A qualified teacher will licensed by ODE and therefore subject to the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators.) 
  • Requires each community school to comply with all attendance requirements and standards established by the State Board and leave the 105 hour automatic withdrawal requirement as it stands in current law, but provide an exception to the 105 hour requirement for high performing eSchool students. 

Increases transparency and accountability

  • Requires e-school sponsors to report to ODE when a school fails to comply with online learning standards.
  • Establishes an “E-School Funding Commission” to study the actual costs of running an e-school.
  • Requires that e-school governing board meetings be live-streamed over the internet so parents and the public can watch the meetings.  There must be proper advance notice of each meeting in every community newspaper from which the e-schools enroll students.
  • Specifies that if a student is enrolled in an e-school for more than 90 days and then transfers back to a traditional public school before spring assessment tests, the test results must be reflected on the report card for the e-school and not the public school.
  • Requires that, for every advertisement used by an e-school (paid for by public funds), the e-school must put a disclaimer showing their most recent state report card grades.

E-schools currently enroll nearly 39,000 students in Ohio and will receive an estimated $275 million this year in state funding. They typically are among the poorest performing schools in Ohio according to annual state report cards.

“These changes are long overdue and should have been included in charter school reform legislation the General Assembly passed last year,” added Senator Schiavoni. 

The legislation includes recommendations that Auditor of State Dave Yost made during testimony to the Senate Finance Education subcommittee in May of 2015. 

The bill is co-sponsored by all the members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus.

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