Charter Schools in Ohio Face Closure Over Mismanagement


Three charter schools in Ohio have been warned that they could face a forced shut down by the state if academic achievement in the schools do not rise. The schools in question are charged with not properly managing their budgets, and two of the schools could face ethics charges.

The schools facing closure include Imagine Cleveland and the Villaview and Cleveland Community School partnership.  Each of these schools have mismanaged their budgets, according to letters sent to them from the Ohio Department of Education, and dismal academic performance has state officials concerned.

“The School’s performance has generally been a failure,” the Ohio Department of Education said in letters to each of the schools. “The school has completely failed to meet the student performance requirements of the contract and generally has a long history of poor academic performance.”

Charter schools in this position are given 5 business days to let the ODE know of their plan to fix the issues.  If this does not happen, or if if the ODE and the school does not agree on a plan, the schools will be forced to close.

The state is considering the closure of a second Imagine school, Imagine on Superior charter school in Canton.  The Imagine Columbus Primary Academy is also facing a number of charges, writes Catherine Candisky for The Columbus Dispatch.

The Imagine schools are based in Virginia but have locations in 11 states and the District of Columbia.  The charter school lost a court case earlier this year pertaining to having one of its locations pay leasing fees to a separate company owned by the chain.

Imagine Cleveland currently enrolls 198 students in kindergarten through the fifth grade.  While the district received a D last year for its Performance Index, taken from a number of test scores used by the state to measure student achievement, the charter school earned a C in value-added measures, which is the most prominent way the state measures student progress over the course of a year.  According to the state, a C suggests that students at the school learned what they were expected to.

“A C is perfectly acceptable,” Tom Gunlock, vice president of the state school board, told The Plain Dealer last fall. “That’s one year’s worth of growth.”

However, ODE spokesman John Charlton added that while a C is an acceptable grade, the school did not meet the goals set in its operating contract, writes Patrick O’Donnell for

Experts in the state are using the Performance Index and value-added grades as the most important metrics, as the state currently holds no plans to issue letter grades for its schools for the next few years while new standards are implemented.

Cleveland Community School, which enrolls 218 students between first and fourth grade, received a C for value-added but an F for its Performance Index.  Meanwhile, the Villaview charter school earned a D for value-added and an F for Performance Index.

Representatives for each of the schools have said they have made improvement efforts at the locations in question and feel it is unfair to focus on poor test scores at the schools while other schools in the city currently have either similar or worse test scores.