Richard Ross’ Resignation Offers New Hope for Charter School Reform
COLUMBUS—Dr. Richard Ross’ announcement that he will step down as Ohio’s top education official gives the state a chance to properly enforce a sweeping new charter school accountability law, said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis.
“Key provisions of the new charter school reform law place an extraordinary amount of authority with the Ohio Department of Education,’’ Theis said. “Dr. Ross’ history of protecting even the worst-performing charter schools had school reform leaders worried that he would try to undercut these hard-fought, bipartisan reforms.’’
ProgressOhio has been advocating for Ross’ removal as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition urging Ohio State School Board members to fire him. The organization planned to deliver the petitions at this month’s Board meeting.
“The state school board must conduct a national search for a new state superintendent and make sure the winning candidate is committed to real accountability,’’ Theis said. “Ohio has a few great charter schools. Now Ohio has an opportunity to have a lot more.’’
During his tenure, Ohio’s $1 billion charter school sector has become a national joke and was mocked at a national school choice conference earlier in the year. David Hansen, the man Ross tapped to oversee charter school accountability, was forced to resign earlier this year after getting caught manipulating school ratings to cover up for chronically failing online charter schools.
Concerns over Hansen’s conduct and state’s failure to disclose his misdeeds in a federal grant application, prompted the U.S. Department of Education this week to place a hold on the $71 million it recently awarded to Ohio until the state gives proper assurances the money will be well spent.