State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) sent a letter Monday to House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) calling for the panel to hold traveling committee hearings in the coming months on issues of charter school accountability and transparency.
The call for additional state oversight follows recent testimony before the state board of education from former educators and students with Horizon schools in Dayton. The testimony detailed alarming allegations of sexual misconduct, grade tampering, wasted tax dollars and racism.
Rep. Fedor, the highest-ranking Democrat on the panel, said in the letter that the state’s initial response was inadequate, warranting greater involvement from legislators. The state has since promised a full investigation, even targeting the teachers who came forward with complaints for further scrutiny.
“Although the state has now promised to look into these charges further, this matter seems best addressed by the body that appropriates money to — and writes laws governing — charter schools. Future policy decisions that will affect charter schools should be based on a full understanding of what is at stake, and I think a summer traveling committee would afford legislators a better opportunity to make informed decisions,” said Rep. Fedor in the letter.
The Ohio House of Representatives holds field hearings throughout the state during the summer to give more Ohioans a chance to interact with their legislators and explore specific state issues in depth. This summer, the House is scheduling two traveling committees — Law Enforcement Perspectives on the Drug Epidemic & Its Impact on Families Study Committee and the Unemployment Compensation Debt & Reducing Burdens on Ohio Businesses Study Committee. Last year, the House created three traveling study committees.
In a follow-up memo to the House Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Fedor included today’s Toledo Blade editorial, which called for stronger state standards for charter schools.
Rep. Fedor recently introduced two bills, HB 547 and 548, to help hold charter schools and their teachers to the same standards as public schools.