Gov. DeWine calls for Department of Education to investigate Bishop Sycamore

Gov. DeWine calls for Department of Education to investigate Bishop Sycamore

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s governor is now calling for an investigation into Bishop Sycamore, the Columbus-based high school that raised questions during Sunday’s nationally-televised football game on ESPN against IMG Academy of Florida.

What You Need To Know

  • Bishop Sycamore serves students in grades 9-12, according to documents submitted to the Ohio Department of Education
  • It is a non-chartered, non-tax-supported school
  • The school is required to submit paperwork indicating it has met/will meet Ohio Operating Standards

Gov. Mike DeWine released the following statement: 

“Like many Ohioans, I am concerned by the recent reports and questions raised about Bishop Sycamore. While this weekend’s football game brought concerns about the health and safety of players, it also raised red flags about the school’s operations. Schools like Bishop Sycamore have an obligation under Ohio law to meet certain minimum standards. Whether Bishop Sycamore meets these standards is not clear. I have asked the Ohio Department of Education to conduct an investigation into Bishop Sycamore to ensure compliance with Ohio law and to ensure the school is providing the educational opportunities Ohio students deserve.”

Based on documents received from the Ohio Department of Education, Bishop Sycamore is a non-chartered, non-tax-supported school. It serves students in grades 9-12.

The annual report submitted by School Administrator Andre Peterson also indicated that it is “an innovative academically-accredited school” that partners with Advancing Sciences Worldwide (ASW) and Innovation Science and Education.

ASW helps to provide the educational experience by helping people get access to scientific knowledge and materials, while ISE provides “an avenue for underprivileged students to excel in academics and athletics.”

Calls and emails to the school about their academics went unanswered until late Tuesday. Their last report submitted in 2020, noted they’d operate in a blended-style using online and in-person learning. 

As a non-chartered, non-tax supported school:

  • It doesn’t receive money from the state
  • It is not chartered by the state board of education because of religious beliefs 
  • It must notify parents that the school meets the Ohio Operating Standard
  • It must submit an annual to ODE each year 

In order to operate:

  • Teachers and administrators must have a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent degree
  • The school must teach English language arts, math, health, science and a host of other courses 
  • The school must follow regular procedures for grade level promotions
  • School officials must comply with state and local health, fire and safety laws and report attendance, which is initially filed by parents

While its annual noted the school had met all requirements and had a fire inspector sign off on its location, it is still unclear where the school is located. The location listed for the school via documents submitted to ODE was not accurate as it turned out to be a sports complex. Other addresses found for the school online turned out to be the Franklin University library and Youth Build Columbus, which is a dropout recovery, vocational school.

In addition, the school’s website, which had minimal information initially, no longer appeared operational.

The Ohio Department of Education said the Office of Non-Public Educational Options oversees non-chartered, non-tax schools; however it’s not clear how much oversight it provides.

ODE said Bishop Sycamore hasn’t submitted paperwork for the 2021-22 school year, which must be done by Sept. 30. If paperwork is not submitted by then, it will no longer be listed as a school under ODE.

On Tuesday, Coach Tyren Jackson indicated that he is now the new head coach of Bishop Sycamore High School football, replacing Roy Johnson. He said it was a move that was already in the works before the team played IMG Academy of Florida, this past Sunday on ESPN. 

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