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Horizon Charter Schools Under Investigation
DAYTON/COLUMBUS -- A federal investigation is underway concerning multiple instances of misconduct at 19 Horizon Science Academy charter schools in Ohio. Three of the schools being investigated are located in Dayton.
A group of teachers from Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School attended the Ohio Board of Education meeting Tuesday, to share testimony about their allegations of school misconduct.
"The stuff that went on here was so outrageous and absolutely unfair," said former Horizon teacher Kellie Kochensperger in an interview after the public hearing portion of the board meeting, "Unprofessional and completely beyond anything I thought a public school should have happening."
"Some of the teachers here have used racial slurs when describing students," added Richard Storrick, who worked for the Dayton High School until June of 2013.
The allegations don't stop at racial slurs, Kochensperger says she testified about sexual misconduct that she believes the administration hid from parents.
"Oral sex, that took place outside of the cultural festival, an after school activity," Kochensperger said. She said the incident took place while she was working at the school, with a group of 6th and 8th grade students. Other students are alleged to have watched, and the incident was recorded on school surveillance cameras. Kochensperger says none of this was reported to parents, who were told that students were suspended for being out of school boundaries.
"It's a publicly funded school, so everybody's tax dollars are funding everything we just talked about," Storrick vented.
Teachers also allege they were instructed to improperly conduct state standardized tests, and not ask questions about it.
"It says here in the book that they're supposed to have calculators," Kochensperger said about a conversation she had with a superior administrator during a testing day, "and he told me they don't need them, it's a science test not a math test."
"With every bone in my body I thought if I filed a complaint with the Ohio Department of Education, if I filed a civil rights suit, if I did anything that would get back to [the Horizon] director I would be terminated and I would lose my job," said Storrick about the allegations of intimidation presented to the State Education Board. He added that's why the group of teachers who testified waited until they had found other teaching jobs to do so.
About the state meeting today, board member Deborah Cain said, "We as a state board and as a department of education have got to get to the bottom of this. Every allegation must be investigated to its fullest."
"Knowing that the kids are being cheated in the long run," Kochensperger said with frustration, "I'm very passionate about students in Ohio deserving better."
Horizon Science Academy Dayton and it's parent company Concept Charter Schools did not respond to requests for comment on the investigation.
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