Editorial from The Plain Dealer The Ohio Department of Education needs to stop its inexcusable foot-dragging and turn over emails and other public documents requested by news outlets attempting to determine who was responsible for trying to omit from overall charter evaluations the poor grades of online charter and dropout-recovery schools.
The scheme, which was first revealed by Plain Dealer Education Reporter Patrick O'Donnell, would, among other results, have helped the academic standing of charter school organizations in which some large GOP campaign donors have a financial stake.
The Plain Dealer, the Akron Beacon Journal, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Columbus Dispatch and The Dayton Daily News all made formal public records requests this summer asking for more information about why David Hansen, then the education department's director of school choice and (ironically) accountability, tossed out the failing grades of several charter schools in his evaluations.
Those requests have been pending for weeks with no action so far by the administration of Gov. John Kasich. That must change.
This is no petty matter. Such alterations are against the law and at odds with the best interests of Ohio's youngsters.
If the alterations had gone unnoticed, several failing charters would have erroneously gained a state tax dollars because of their good scores. So, it's important to look closer at this scandal – particularly since the state school board has refused to hire an independent investigator – to determine who made this decision and why.
Ohio School Superintendent Richard Ross has been mum but Hansen, who also happens to be the husband of Beth Hansen, Kasich's presidential campaign manager, resigned shortly after he accepted blame for deleting the grades. Hansen told the State Board of Education in July that he threw out the failing grades of online charter schools because they ignored other successes.
But Hansen's mea culpa shouldn't be taken at face value. Meanwhile, ODE said recently it was still reviewing emails to make sure that they release the right ones.
Stephanie Dodd, a state school board member, told the Akron Beacon Journal that Ross told her weeks ago that the department had already reviewed more than 50,000 emails and determined that Hansen acted alone.
So where are those emails? Turn them over ASAP.