Hope Academies, According To The Ohio Department of Education

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 12 Hope Academy locations 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.

The CEA Blog took a look at the numbers regarding White Hat’s “Life Skills” Centers in an earlier post; now the ODE data on Hope Academies is under scrutiny.

Click on the jump below to take a closer look at ODE data on Hope Academies in the state of Ohio.

According to records held by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), in the 2006-2007 school year, 3,682 students attended the 12 Hope Academies listed on the ODE’s website. While each school is considered to be its own school district due to “separate” school boards established for each Academy, the combined enrollment of the 12 locations is larger than the average school district in Ohio.

Only 2 of the 12 Hope Academies made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) according to ODE data. Seven received “D” ratings of Academic Watch, 4 received “C” ratings of Continuous Improvement and 1 received the “F” rating of Academic Emergency.

The average class size in each of the 12 Hope Academies varied from 19.4 to 27.7 students per classroom teacher, for a combined average of 22.05 students per classroom teacher, slightly higher than the state average of 19.6 to 1.

Of the 3,682 students enrolled in the 12 Hope Academies, only 71 were classified as having a specific disability documented in an IEP. This amounts to only 1.9% of the chain’s total student enrollment. By contrast, Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) listed 17.6% of its students as disabled; several percentage points above the 14.3% average listed by the entire state of Ohio.

More than 20 teachers were listed as being employed by the 12 Hope Academies as Special Education Supplemental Services Teachers, tasked with providing supplemental aids and services necessary to enable students with disabilities to receive an appropriate education in the greater classroom environment. There were no teachers listed in the ODE database as employed under the designation “Special Education Teaching”.

Only one of the 3,682 students enrolled during the 2006-2007 school year was listed as Limited English Proficient (LEP), amounting to less than one hundredth of one percent of total student enrollment. Neighboring CMSD’s LEP students represented 5.2% of its enrollment during the same period. The Ohio average for 2006-2007 was approximately 1.6% of all students statewide were classified as LEP.

During the 2006-2007 school year, 3,285 of the 3,682 students attending the 12 Hope Academies belonged to a minority group, representing 89.3% of the chain’s enrollment. Minority enrollment in CMSD represented 83.9%, giving the chain a higher minority student enrollment than any of the members of the Ohio 8, the partnership that represents the 8 largest urban school districts in Ohio.

The average teacher salary varied between $32,301 to $34,390 between the 12 Hope Academies listed in ODE’s records. No teachers were employed under the ODE database designation under: Counseling, Librarian/ Media Specialist or Remedial Specialist.