- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio education official resigned Saturday after acknowledging he excluded failing grades for charter schools in evaluations of the schools’ overseers.

David Hansen, the School Choice director for the Education Department, confirmed last week he left F grades for online and dropout recovery schools off evaluations of charter school sponsors. He said he felt the marks would “mask” successes elsewhere.

The omission boosted the ratings of two sponsors, which could make them eligible for more state perks.

Hansen sent a one-line letter of resignation to state Schools Superintendent Richard Ross on Saturday, which the department released to The Associated Press. Agency spokesman Michael Sponhour called Hansen’s departure a “mutually agreed upon” decision.

Hansen could not be reached for comment. The voicemail on his home phone was full and a message could not be left.

Officials said Hansen was legally bound to report all the grades. They said evaluations were retracted.

Hansen’s wife is chief-of-staff to Republican Gov. John Kasich. She takes a leave next week to work for his 2016 presidential campaign.

The Education Department is seeking input from independent experts to make sure the methodology for evaluating all sponsors, including those already evaluated, “is credible, accurate and compliant,” Sponhour said.

Hansen’s resignation comes as Ohio’s charter schools are under scrutiny.

State lawmakers frustrated by attendance, accountability and performance troubles plaguing the schools - pitched as an alternative to traditional public schools - introduced bipartisan legislation in April to tackle the problem.

The bill stalled before legislators’ summer recess and at least one education reform group, StudentsFirst Ohio, was pushing Friday for House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger to call legislators back to Columbus to pass the legislation. A spokeswoman said there were no immediate plans to do so.

State Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Toledo Democrat, had asked Ross to resign, and she and Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni asked Ohio Auditor Dave Yost to investigate.

Yost, a Republican, has made allegations of records tampering and data manipulation at both charter and traditional schools a priority of his administration. He has said he is concerned about the situation but has not launched an official investigation.

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