Ohio is the for-profit Capitol of US education. Here is one of the profiteers’ secrets: They collect tax dollars for no-show students.

This is from Bill Phillis of the Ohio coalition for education and adequacy.

Ghost schools


About five years ago, Scripps Howard News Service published, Ghost Schools-A special investigative report by Scripps Howard News Service finds taxpayers paying millions for students who never show up for class. For-profit “ghost schools” collect money even when students are absent.

Although the Scripps Howard investigations of charter schools took place in several states, one of the Ohio for-profit charter school operations is featured in the report. A Salem, MA for-profit company owner is quoted in the report as saying, “Ohio is the profit-making EMO capital of America.”

Investigators learned that during the 2006-2007 school year, Ohio, by extracting money from school districts, paid $29.9 million for absent students who were enrolled in 47 dropout recovery schools. In one such charter school, 64 percent of the enrolled students were not in class on a daily basis during the 2004-2005 school year.

A former principal of a Life Skills Center is quoted in the report as saying “It’s a cash cow. I spend less than $1 million on a $3 million operation. What in the h*&$ are they (executives at his former company) doing with the other $2 million?”

Anyone interested in receiving this Scripps Howard News Service report may contact this office.

When this report was published, those responsible for the documented fraud should have been held accountable. Where was the outrage from the public or education community? At least the state should have followed up on the findings reported. Scripps Howard reporter Thomas Hargrove, a member of the investigative team, indicated in a recent telephone conversation that he was shocked that such fraud in Ohio could exist without somebody going to jail.

Is this type of fraud still practiced in Ohio? Who would know? The charter school lobby is so powerful, primarily due to campaign contributions, that the political environment thwarts any attempt to hold for-profit charter schools accountable. A few years ago the governor attempted to right this wrong but was blocked by powerful political forces.

The money paid for the phantom students comes right out of school districts’ budgets. Hence, educational opportunities for students enrolled in the public common school system are diminished due to that “cash cow” approach that Ohio political leadership has established and maintained.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

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