Created on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CINCINNATI (AP) — A southwest Ohio judge has ordered the state Department of Education to sponsor an inner-city charter school to keep it operating.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Nadine Allen ruled that the DOE made it difficult for the VLT Academy school to find a sponsor and that closing it would do "irreparable harm" to its 600 students.
The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1n6cPqe ) reports the department will have to provide nearly $300,000 to make sure teachers and staff are paid in the next school year.
VLT's sponsor had declined to renew its contract, leaving the school facing closure.
The judge said Monday that the Department of Education had warned two potential sponsors "they would be held 'accountable for the quality of their schools' and taking 'a school like VLT would stand in the way of them being able to be recognized as an effective (sponsor).'"
The state has been cracking down on poorly performing charter schools, although the VLT superintendent says its academics didn't trigger automatic closure. Ohio has nearly 400 of the schools that offer alternatives to traditional public schools.
A DOE spokesman said it will follow the judge's order, while making sure the school performs.
"In Ohio, we want quality schools," spokesman John Charlton said. "If we're going to be the sponsor, then we'll make sure they're meeting their obligations."
Superintendent and founder Valerie Lee said the school will cut back to K-8 from K-12 after losing students because of housing changes in its area. Nearly all the students are black and considered economically disadvantaged.
"We're ready to get started," Lee said.