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Education Leaders Continue Fight Over Ohio's Recovery Schools

Paige Pfleger

An anticipated inaugural meeting of a committee addressing how Ohio’s dropout prevention and recovery schools operate was canceled Wednesday.

Dropout prevention and recovery schools serve students at risk of failing or leaving traditional school programs. Often, these students face barriers like poverty, addiction, health problems or other issues—and have generally fallen drastically behind in their coursework.

Committee members say the cancellation was due to logistics. But the move follows a heated exchange over the program at a Board of Education meeting earlier this month. 

In a memo prepared for that meeting, state superintendent Paolo DeMaria called another group's process to deliver recommendations “not one of collaborative co-design.” 

“The Work Group process reflects members of a regulated educational sector given carte blanche to design their own regulations, resulting in a decidedly one-sided report,” DeMaria wrote.

That group was chaired by two state school board members and included affiliates of the schools in question. The 12 reform measures recommended by the working group included loosening a number of regulations. 

“There’s just a lot of compliance,” said Lisa Woods, a State Board of Education member who served as vice-chair of the working group. “The schools were having a very hard time constantly having to get someone in there for paperwork to make reports and it had little to do with serving these kids.”  

The schools and their effectiveness have been highly debated in recent years. Many are run by for-profit companies and receive millions in taxpayer funding each year.

According to a Department of Education spokeswoman, a new date has not been identified for the inaugural committee to meet. This group will include legislators, a representative from the governor's office and representatives from the dropout prevention and recovery community.