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Frank Lazzeri, Superintendent Boardman Local Schools

Here’s a little tale that took place yesterday in our district that I will call “The lost year of a child’s life”.

A student of ours since kindergarten, I’ll call her Mary (not her real name), was withdrawn from our district in October 2014 because of what the mother called an unresolved bullying issue.  The father had been raising Mary and the mother had been out of the child’s life until this year due to some issues.  Mom enrolled Mary in the Ohio Virtual Academy as an alternative to the Boardman Schools in order to get the child out of the bullying situation.

Fast forward to June 5, 2015.  I received a call from the grandmother, who did not want anyone to know she called, reporting that Mary had been withdrawn from Ohio Virtual Academy in January for “non-attendance” (i.e. not doing her lessons on the computer).  Neither our EMIS person nor I were ever contacted by Ohio Virtual and nobody from the family ever reported that Mary had been withdrawn and was not attending school.

Yesterday we got in touch with the mother, Ohio Virtual Academy, our attendance officer, our principal and guidance counselor from the school from which she withdrew, and our SRO.  Here is what I found out:

Ohio Virtual – said she was withdrawn in January for non-attendance.  They could not comment regarding their failure to contact us.  (I’m sure they got their tuition though)

Principal, guidance counselor, and attendance officer – the bullying issue had been resolved when the school became aware of the situation in October and there were attendance problems prior to leaving for OVA.

Mother – She said that she was sold a “bill of goods” by Ohio Virtual Academy.  They promised smaller class sizes and individual attention for her daughter.  She said that they could never get help from an OVA instructor when her daughter struggled.  She said once her daughter was withdrawn from OVA they tried Buckeye Online and had similar results.  She says she is moving to another community with a friend this summer and will be enrolling her daughter in third grade again in a traditional brick and mortar school.

Bottom line – Due to the inefficiencies and lack of accountability of a charter school (especially on-line schools), this poor girl lost a year in her educational life – she will have to repeat third grade.  Research shows that students who are retained have a greater likelihood of dropping out of school and possibly being incarcerated later in life.  I am sure Mary is not the only child who has lost a year of education because of a greater desire on the part of the community school to watch the bottom line rather than taking seriously a sacred obligation to educate ALL CHILDREN.

[Lazzeri’s letter was originally published by the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding.]