State Auditor Dave Yost is launching a special audit of three Ohio charter school sponsors. StateImpact Ohio's Amy Hansen reports Yost hopes to learn more about what led 20 percent of the state's charter schools to close last year.
The three sponsors Yost is looking at are the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, the Warren County Educational Service Center, and Cincinnati St. Aloysius.
He said all of them are overseeing first-year charter schools.
Seventeen of the state's charter schools, which receive public tax dollars but are privately run, closed in 2013.
Yost wouldn't give more specific details about those sponsors, but said the investigation could grow.
"All we know is there have been an unusually high number of failures this year," he said. "We don't know why and we don't know that anyone is necessarily doing anything wrong. It's possible that these failures are the result of a poorly constructed system. It's possible they are coincidences, though I tend not to think that."
Nor would Yost elaborate on what his office will look for during the investigation other than saying he's planning on finding the facts and following the money.
The auditor's office is also launching a performance audit of the Ohio Department of Education to answer some questions about the role they play in operating charter schools.
"Who has the authority and the power to supervise charter schools, what are the standards, how do they get started, are proper mechanisms in place," he said. "I think it's time for us to take a look at this. Charters have been going on for over 15 years now in Ohio and it's probably time to look at this and say 'are we doing this the best we can.'"
ODE spokesperson John Charlton said sponsors bear most of the responsibility for charter schools, and adds that the department is fully cooperating with the audits.
Yost said he doesn't have a timetable on how long each audit will take.