Q: What is a public school?
schools are the “traditional,” publicly funded primary and secondary schools that
include city, exempted village, local and joint vocational school districts. Public
schools are operated under the direction of boards of education, which usually
consist of 5 members elected from within the district. While Ohio’s community
schools (“charter schools”) are also public schools, this article focuses on
traditional public schools.
are public schools funded?
A: Ohio’s public schools receive federal,
state and local funding. Federal funds are provided primarily through incentive-based
programs such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NLCB) and the Race to the Top
(RttT). Federal funds are also provided through the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for special education services.
State funding comes primarily from
Ohio Department of Education per-pupil foundation payments, which are adjusted
to some degree based on district size and need.
Local funds come primarily from taxes
paid by real property owners in the school district. Local funding can vary
widely among districts, depending on a district’s overall real estate values. Largely
because of this variance in real estate values and taxes collected, the Supreme
Court of Ohio ruled in 1997 that Ohio’s school funding was unconstitutional. The Court’s decision has resulted in some school
funding equalization, but funding inequity remains a challenge.
public school teachers be licensed?
A: Yes. Public school teachers must comply with all Ohio Department of
Education certification and licensing requirements. At a minimum, a public
school teacher must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, complete
a teacher preparation program (including field experience and student teaching),
pass a licensure examination and possess good moral character.
a public school choose the students it will and will not serve?
Ohio law requires all children between the ages of six and 18 to attend either
a private or a public school, and public schools must admit any child of school
age residing within its district. Public schools may adopt an open enrollment policy
(tuition-free attendance) for students residing in adjacent or non-adjacent
district, but may not exclude students residing in the district.
A public school may remove (suspend
or expel) a resident student for violations of the student code of conduct. Ohio
laws also require students to be removed from school in certain serious situations
(e.g., involving weapons or threats).
Q: Do students ever have to pay tuition to attend a public school?
Occasionally. The general rule is
that students may only attend school tuition-free in the district where their
parents reside. This applies to natural or adoptive parents and to the
residential parent if the parents are not married. First, schools may allow
students outside of their district to pay tuition to enroll, and students may
opt to do so. Second, if neither parent resides in the district where the student
resides, the district where the student resides may charge tuition. In many
cases, however, the cost of tuition must be “charged back” to the school
district where the parent(s) reside, so that the student is not responsible for
the cost. There are several exceptions to this general tuition rule, including exceptions
for children in foster homes, families buying or building a home in the
district, children of school employees and special education students.
are public school students tested?
A: Public school students must take all
state-required tests, including diagnostic assessments, proficiency tests, the Ohio
Achievement Assessment (OAA) and the Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT). In 2012, Ohio adopted the Third Grade Reading
Guarantee, which requires districts to diagnose reading deficiencies for
students in grades K-3, to implement reading improvement and monitoring plans, and
to provide intensive reading interventions. Assessments and proficiency testing
for special education students may be exempted or modified, depending on the
student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Q: Is transportation provided to public schools?
A: Transportation must be provided for
students in grades K-8 who live more than two miles from school. Transportation
may be provided for students living less than two miles from school or for
students attending high school, but neither is mandatory. The student’s public
school district also must provide transportation to any private school, as long
as the student lives more than two miles from the private school and the
private school is less than 30 minutes away from the public school that the
student would have attended. Public schools must provide such transportation
for private school students in grades K-8 only, unless the public school
already provides transportation for its own high school students, in which case
it must provide the same for students attending private schools.
This “Law You Can Use” column was
provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by attorney Mark A.
Weiker of the Columbus firm Means, Bichimer, Burkholder & Baker Co., LPA.
Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general
information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal
problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.
Labels: education, public school