COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann was merely following the suggestion of a teachers union when he decided to sue several allegedly underperforming charter schools, a report in Tuesday's Columbus Dispatch argues.
When Dann filed the first of his suits in September, the Ohio Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, decided to drop its suit against the State that alleged it was not monitoring the charter schools closely enough.
There are approximately 30 charter schools, publicly funded private schools, that are having struggles meeting financial and academic standards. The State supports 311 charter schools, educating 76,000 students.
The Columbus Dispatch obtained four months of communication between Dann's office and the Ohio Education Association and says the legal strategy used to sue the schools was brought up by Sue Salamido, an attorney with the OEA.
In one of his lawsuits (which can be found here), Dann wrote trust law "requires that the trust funds be redirected to enterprises more likely to achieve the trust's general purpose: to provide a public education meeting State standards."
"I know this is a long shot, but by any chance, are community schools registered as charitable trusts? If not, are they exempt from registration by regulation?" Salamido asked in a May 7 e-mail to Assistant Attorney General Todd R. Marti, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
"Not that I'm aware of, to either," Marti replied in an e-mail the same day.
A spokesman for Dann told the Dispatch that Dann had been considering the strategy before he even took office in January, though it could have been new information to Marti.
"Critics, noting that a previous lawsuit by another teachers union challenging charter schools was rejected 4-3 by the Ohio Supreme Court, question why Dann would settle a case he likely would win," says the report, authored by Catherine Candisky.
"The newly released communications suggest that Dann agreed poor-performing schools should be closed and that it was more efficient for his office to do it on its own than through litigation with the union."