The law allows up to five new virtual charter schools could be approved per year, all subject to the approval of the superintendent of public instruction with such approval based on applicants demonstrating experience and quality.
The law also permits an exemplary rated authorizer to open up to two new virtual charter schools to serve primarily students enrolled in a dropout recovery program, not to exceed six new schools in five years.
Ohio law allows full-time virtual charter schools to require an orientation course for all new students.
Ohio law requires a charter school’s governing authority to adopt an attendance policy that includes a procedure for automatically withdrawing a student from the school if the student without a legitimate excuse fails to participate in seventy-two consecutive hours of the learning opportunities offered to the student.
Ohio’s law contains provisions requiring these schools to provide computers and other technology equipment and support, have a teacher of record for not more than 125 students each, have a location for testing, counseling, and instructional coaching within 50 miles of each student, document daily learning hours, have contacts with parents, have an orientation course for students, and have planes for providing special education services.
Starting in 2016, all such schools need to also comply with the standards developed by the international association for K-12 online learning.
The law provides that in the case there exists any business or familial relationship between a governing authority of a charter school or any of its officers or employees and a management company contracted by the school or any of that company's officers or employees, other than the operator agreement itself, the management company shall agree to indemnify the school for financial losses to the charter school up to the amount of the moneys received by the management company.
Ohio has created certain controls to align how much a school is paid with how much each student actually engages with the school.
First, when a student enrolls in a full-time virtual charter school, no funding flows to the school until the student receives a computer and online access is verified during the enrollment process. Typically, schools will use a UPS confirmation as proof they sent the computer. Therefore, the school has an upfront financial stake in making sure each student has the tools to engage and has actually logged into the school’s online program.
The state calculates the annual per-pupil amount for each school and makes a monthly payment equal to one-twelfth of that amount. Each month, the Ohio Department of Education pulls data regarding student participation at each school and the monthly payment is adjusted up or down accordingly based on each student’s particaption. After the school year, a reconciliation process is conducted by the Ohio Department of Education. If the end-of-school-year reconcilitation process finds that a student engaged in learning at a lower level than was reported over the course of the year, that student’s school will owe funding to the state. Some schools avoid large end-of-school-year overpayments by adjusting participation time down in each monthly report.
To demonstrate the time a student participates, the state audit gathers the following information for each student:
• The calendar reported by the school;
• The enrollment start date;
• The enrollment end date; and,
• The percent of time the student engaged in learning.
To demonstrate time the student is engaged in learning, the minimum information provided is:
• Student ID;
• Brief description of learning opportunities, such as class or course information;
• Dates and times of actual learning opportunities;
• Total of verified learning opportunities time; and,
• Teacher certification of the reported learning opportunities.