- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Legislation aimed at cracking down on low-performing Ohio charter schools and raising accountability standards on school sponsors cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.

The Ohio House Education Committee approved the bill 13-6. The House could vote on the measure Thursday.

The bill requires additional financial, enrollment and attendance reporting from charter school sponsors and requires members of governing boards to file annual conflict-of-interest statements, among other changes. The measure also prohibits low-performing schools from getting new sponsors.

The proposed changes follow a study that found Ohio charter schools’ performance results are mediocre and their students, on average, lag behind those of traditional schools.

Backers say the bill begins to address Ohio’s inadequate regulations.

“This bill moves Ohio from the ‘wild West’ of charter school oversight to a reasonable and responsible system that encourages effective schools and sponsors that are providing high quality choices for parents and children and discourages operators who are not delivering a quality education,” said Greg Harris, state director of StudentsFirst Ohio.

Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the pro-charter Fordham Institute, said, “The committee didn’t shy away from the tough issues, and the result is a bill that addresses many of the problems that have plagued charter schools for a long time.”

Detractors wanted added restrictions on charter operators and sponsors, so that the sometimes private companies would have to show more detail of how state money is spent.

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