OFT: IRS Should Take A Closer Look At Charter School Chains

The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) sent the IRS a letter asking it to investigate whether charter schools managed by White Hat Management, Inc. and its affiliates can properly claim 503(c) tax-exempt status.

White Hat Management and its affiliates operate the “Life Skills” and “Hope Academy” charter schools in Ohio, Florida and Arizona. OFT states that the schools, are merely a tax-exempt “pass through” to funnel money to the management company– $84 million tax dollars per year.

The Ohio Department of Education database recorded information for 18 Life Skills centers throughout the state; when examined, the data paints a disturbing picture of what results Ohioans are receiving for their $84 million dollars in tax money diverted from public school districts.

Click on the jump below to take a closer look at Life Skills Centers in the state of Ohio.

Of the 18 Life Skills Centers listed in ODE’s records, 10 of the 18 centers were listed in Academic Emergency, the lowest rating on the state report card. The remaining 8 Life Skills Centers were listed in Academic Watch, the second-lowest rating. None of the Centers met AYP for the 2006-2007 school year.

According the ODE, the average ratio of classroom ratio of students to teachers in the state of Ohio is 19.6 to 1. The average classroom ratio of all 18 Life Skills Centers is an astounding 51.5 students for every teacher.

A larger percentage of Life Skills students are minorities than the state average; 59% of students who attend Life Skills are minorities versus 28.4% of students statewide.

An average of 36.6% of Life Skills Students graduated from the 17 Centers that listed data for the 2005-2006 school year. By comparison, 72.9% of Columbus City Schools students graduated during the same period.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, a Life Skills teacher in Ohio earnsbetween $32,240 and $38,062 on average. By comparison, a Columbus City School teacher earns $59,713 on average, slightly higher than the state average of $53,536.