Audit on Townsend Community School Highlights Need for Clearer Funding Guidelines for Blended Learning Community Schools
Columbus – An audit report released today by Auditor of State Keith Faber finds that Townsend Community School, a blended learning school in Erie County, operated out of compliance with Ohio law. The situation illustrates deficiencies in Ohio’s current law controlling how blended learning community schools operate. This is a matter of concern to the Auditor of State’s office because the office audits blended learning community schools in accordance with the rules and standards set by the Ohio Revised Code. Without explicit minimum expectations for how schools should operate for funding, it is difficult to hold them accountable.
“Ohio’s current law allows for potential waste and abuse as it fails to provide a well-defined framework for blended learning schools,” Auditor Keith Faber said. “In the interest of getting ahead of a growing concern, I look forward to working with the General Assembly to add clarity to the law to ensure our community schools are funded properly to provide students with the education and tools they need for success in life.”
Townsend Community School is one of a growing number of cases that demonstrates the need for more explicit guidelines defining blended learning. Prior to opening, the school provided documentation to their sponsor and the Ohio Department of Education outlining how it would provide blended learning in compliance with the Ohio law. According to the law, a blended learning school has to provide instruction in both a physical location away from home and online where the student has control of time, place, and pace of learning. However, the Auditor of State identified that the school does not require and provide that students have time in a classroom and online. Instead, students received credit for being “in class” by working a job and completing correspondence at home, not online. The Auditor of State does not believe that this arrangement meets Ohio’s law regarding the provision of blended learning.
Accordingly, the Auditor of State finds that Townsend’s educational plan does not conform to the requirements of a blended learning community school and that the school is in noncompliance with Ohio’s statutes, rules, and regulatory guidance. Additionally, the Ohio Department of Education has also found issues with the school’s use of a blended learning model.
In their response, the school disputes the findings and holds the position that they are operating within the scope of the law.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.