Ohio law requires all eligible authorizers to apply to the state board of education for approval to serve as an authorizer for start-up charter schools except for those already serving as authorizers at the time this provision was enacted. However, every authorizer now has an agreement with the state department of education.
Ohio law requires the state department of education to adopt criteria and procedures to process authorizer applications. State regulations specify that an interested authorizer must obtain, complete, and submit a written application by the specified deadline. Regulations provide that the application must include evidence of a authorizer's ability and willingness to do the following: authorize a new charter in a challenged district; demonstrate, if it authorizes any schools, that they hold a comparable rating to or better than the performance of Ohio schools rated for continuous performance; possess resources necessary to monitor and provide technical assistance; comply with statute; indicate fees not to exceed 3% of the total amount of payments for operating expenses that a school receives from the state which will be collected; monitor and evaluate school compliance; monitor and evaluate academic and fiscal performance; report on the schools to the state department; provide technical assistance; intervene to correct any performance deficiencies; and have a plan in place for when a school experiences financial difficulties or closes prior to the end of the school year.
Ohio law requires authorizers to issue an annual report of assurances to the state department and an annual report on expenditures.
Ohio law requires the state department to monitor the effectiveness of authorizers in their oversight of the schools with which they have contracted. The law requires the state department of education to rate authorizers based upon their performance. State law allows a charter school authorizer that earns an overall rating of “effective” or “exemplary” for at least three consecutive years to be evaluated by the Ohio Department of Education once every three years going forward.
If at any time the state board finds that an authorizer is not in compliance or is no longer willing to comply with its contract with any school or with the department’s rules for authorizing, state law requires the state board or designee to conduct a hearing. If after the hearing, the state board or designee has confirmed the original finding, state law allows the state department to revoke the authorizer’s approval to authorize schools and assume the authorization of any schools with which the authorizer has contracted until the earlier of the expiration of two school years or until a new authorizer is secured by the school’s governing authority. State law allows the state department to extend the term of the contract in the case of a school for which it has assumed authorization as necessary to accommodate the term of the department’s authorization of the school.
In lieu of revoking an authorizer’s authority to authorize charter schools, if the state department finds that an authorizer is not in compliance with applicable laws and administrative rules, the law requires the department to declare in a written notice to the authorizer the specific laws or rules, or both, for which the authorizer is noncompliant. The law requires an authorizer notified to respond to the state department not later than fourteen days after the notification with a proposed plan to remedy the conditions for which the authorizer was found to be noncompliant. The law requires the state department to approve or disapprove the plan.
If a plan or a revised plan is approved, the law requires the authorizer to implement the plan. If an authorizer does not respond to the state department or implement an approved compliance plan, or if an authorizer does not receive approval of a compliance plan, the law requires the state department to declare in written notice to the authorizer that the authorizer is in probationary status, and may limit the authorizer's ability to authorize additional schools.
The law allows an authorizer that has been placed on probationary status to apply to the state department for its probationary status to be lifted.
While the law does not require the legislature and governor to regularly review the performance of the state department of education as an authorizer, they can do so at any time. In addition, the ability of the state department of education to continue authorizing can be removed by the legislature and governor (the entities that gave it that authority).
By December thirty-first of each year, state law requires the state department to issue a report to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the chairpersons of the house and senate committees principally responsible for education matters regarding the effectiveness of academic programs, operations, and legal compliance and of the financial condition of all charter schools and on the performance of authorizers.
Not later than November 15, 2016, and not later than the fifteenth day of November for each year thereafter, Ohio law requires the state department of education to develop and publish an annual performance report for all operators of community schools in the state based on their performance for the previous school year. The report shall be made available on the department's web site.