The Elida School Board should be commended for passing a resolution last week that points out the many flaws in the charter school industry. Its decision to send an invoice the Ohio Department of Education for $3.07 million to cover local funding lost to charter schools illustrates the material amount of local taxpayer money flowing to schools where the Elida board and taxpayers have no voice.
It is a form of taxation without representation. Our local voters assume these dollars remain in Elida. They do not!
Ohio ranks No. 1 in school choice and No. 1 in charter school fraud. Our current legislators should have on the top of their priority list, a robust discussion on how to reduce charter school fraud. Public schools have a great fiduciary responsibility to make sure tax dollars are spent with the proper purpose. When the local dollars flow elsewhere, the school and taxpayers have no control over how it is used.
The areas of charter school fraud that need to be addressed are as follows:
• Data rigging on enrollment, which is reporting higher numbers of attendance to the Ohio Department of Education to illegally increase their funding.
• Heavy political donations, if charter schools give heavy donations, millions, they will influence legislators to exempt the charter schools from accountability and exempt them from more than 150 state laws.
• Conflict of interest transactions, renting a charter school building from a relative at an outrageous price.
• Dollars flowing out of state and out of country to generate heavy profits for individuals whose mission has nothing to do with high quality education.
• Many charters are failing students. ECOT for example has a 38 percent graduation rate.
The resources lost in this mess hurt Ohio students and Ohio taxpayers. We have great schools in Allen County and we have great choices in Allen County. Our schools in Allen County work hard and do great things. Visit our schools any day and you will find great kids, great teachers and great community pride.
The legislative discussion should not be about choice, but instead, should move to making all schools, who receive public taxpayer money in Ohio, accountable.
Joel Parker is the treasurer of Elida Schools