The state auditor of Ohio has charged that Cleveland's controversial school voucher program is being mismanaged and that 30 families whose household incomes fall between $50,000 to $90,000 a year received vouchers, even though the program was intended to benefit low-income residents.
"Ohio must bring the operation of this program under better control," Auditor Jim Petro said in a Jan. 5 press release.
Petro's report found lax oversight of program rules regarding residency, inconsistent policies regarding the use of a lottery to choose participating students and consistent overpayments to taxi companies that were hired to ferry students to and from private schools. State officials had earlier uncovered $419,000 in overbillings over a two-year period from the taxi firms.
Ohio lawmakers passed the plan four years ago. At the time, it was promoted as a way to help low-income families send their children to private schools. But the audit noted that the program has no income cap, meaning that some families whose incomes are far above the federal poverty level have been participating.
Critics said the audit is further proof that the program should be shut down. "We need to re-examine the entire program," Sen. C.J. Prentiss, a Cleveland Democrat, told the Associated Press. "It's been totally mismanaged."
Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and other organizations have filed suit against the program in state court, insisting that it violates the separation of church and state. Arguments in the case...