The Northwest Ohio Charter School Coalition (NWOCSC) has accused Toledo Public Schools of writing threatening letters to parents of charter school students to appear at a Toledo Public School attendance hearing or have their case referred to the Lucas County Juvenile Court.
The letters, sent to some parents at Eagle Academy in East Toledo and Maritime Academy in Toledo, allege that their children are not enrolled in school. Maritime Academy says two parents received letters, while Eagle Academy said they were contacted by one parent who received a letter, and a second parent who was getting “harassing truancy phone calls from a nearby Toledo public school.
Mitchell Bean, executive director of Eagle Academy, said one parent received harassing phone calls from a nearby Toledo public middle school, even after explaining that the child is enrolled at a charter school. Bean says another parent received a letter, but apparently resolved the matter with TPS and destroyed the letter.
TPS referred the student’s case to the Lucas County Juvenile Court, and planned to refer the case to the Lucas County Children’s Services. The letter also states that the state support services would be contacted, as well as the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles if the child is of driving age.
“While we understand that Toledo Public Schools has a responsibility to make sure all school children are enrolled, we find threatening letters and repeated phone calls to established charter school parents disturbing,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the NWOCSC. “At this point, we are simply questioning why this is happening and how many charter school parents have been contacted. We are also questioning why charter school parents need to be contacted at all. TPS should have access to charter school enrollment, and should be able to see where a child is going to school. Additionally, transcripts for charter school students coming from TPS must be issued by TPS in the first place. How is it, then, that TPS doesn’t know where these students are enrolled?”
Patty Mazur, director of communications at TPS, said the district is simply keeping track of students who had attended a Toledo public school last year, but have not shown up this year.
“It’s a letter that we send out every year,” explained Mazur. “The letter went out to parents whose children last year went to Toledo public schools. As of this point this year, they have not returned to Toledo public schools, and they have not notified us of the fact that they are now sending their children to charter schools. There is a process we ask parents to follow as far as letting us know their children are transferring to another school. These parents have not done that,” she said.
Toledo Public Schools Superintendent John Foley said the district is required by law to find out why a student who was enrolled in the district the previous year is not the following year.
The district mailed the letters to parents of children who are listed as TPS students, “but who, according to our records, have not yet reported to school this year,” he said.
“The letters ask parents to notify the district if they have enrolled their student in another school,” he said. “A similar letter has been sent to parents each year for the past nine years, as it is the district’s responsibility to determine the status of all students in accordance with Ohio Revised Code. This information allows the district to maintain the accuracy of our student data.”