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Ohio court: CPS unfair to charters
Home » Ohio court: CPS unfair to charters
Posted on June 7, 2012
The Ohio Supreme Court has sided against the Cincinnati Public School district in a precedent-setting case involving the sale of old school buildings to charter schools.
The court ruled 6-1 Wednesday that the district violated the law when it put a deed restriction on one of its old school buildings in 2009 to prevent the new owner from operating a school there. It ruled the restriction unenforceable.
The new owner, Roger Conners, sued. He claimed the district was violating Ohio law. The case, backed by a cadre of charter-school organizations, made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Wednesday’s ruling sets precedent in the world of charter schools because it paves the way for these public schools run by independent organizations to more easily access facilities for their schools.
“The number one challenge for a new charter school is acquisition of an appropriate facility,” said Chad Readler, an attorney for Jones Day in Columbus and counsel for a number of charter school-related organizations in this case. “The state makes very limited if any (building) funds available to charter schools. The playing field isn’t especially level. I think the legislature saw this as a small step to help charter schools.
So this is a win for charter schools that the legislation means what it says.”
CPS, a district of 33,000 students, sold one of its old school building in South Fairmount at auction in 2009 to Roger Connors. The district included a deed restriction that forbid Connors from operating a school in the building. Connors opened one anyway, the Theodore Roosevelt Community School.
The district sued. Conners filed a counter suit. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court and an appellate court sided with Conners. CPS appealed to the Supreme Court.
Cincinnati Public Schools has said the building was unsuitable for use as a school. The district and other large urban districts in Ohio are lobbying the state for more leeway to dispose of their old buildings as they choose rather than giving them away to charter schools. Traditional public districts often see charter schools as competition because they siphon students and state funding from traditional districts. While some are high-performing, as a whole charter schools perform worse academically than traditional schools.