Infamous ESPN Rash By IMG Academy Was Against School ‘Scam’, Ohio Says
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio school whose legitimacy was examined after its allegedly top football team was defeated in an ESPN televised game against Manatee County’s IMG Academy Nor did it live up to its educational billing: it turned out to be “a scam,” according to an Ohio Department of Education investigation.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has said he is asking the attorney general and other officials to determine whether any laws were broken by what claimed to be Bishop Sycamore High School in the Columbus area. DeWine also said he would work with state education officials and lawmakers to adopt the changes recommended by the department to avoid a repeat of the situation.
“Ohio families should be able to count that our schools educate students and not just exist in name as a vehicle for high school sports,” DeWine said in a written statement Friday.
The state has found no evidence that Bishop Sycamore enrolled multiple students this year and concluded that he did not meet minimum standards, including for academic offerings and student safety, according to the investigation. ODE launched after the team’s 58-0 televised loss to powerhouse IMG Academy, a prep boarding school and athletic training destination in Bradenton, in August.
Bishop Sycamore’s report filed with the ministry for that school year listed only one student enrolled and listed their physical address as a house in a residential area.
In a call with a department official last month, Bishop Sycamore administrator Andre Peterson described his program as a way to gain more visibility for football players who were struggling to get into the clubs. colleges, according to the ODE report.
Messages requesting comment were left in Peterson on Saturday by phone and through the school’s email address. In previous comments reported by USA TODAY Sports, Peterson had denied that there had been a “scam” at the unbalanced football game or at the school, saying it helped players hoping to compete in college.
She identified herself with ODE as an “unlicensed, non-tax-funded school,” a category which is largely outside the oversight of the ministry and which allows some typical operating systems to be bypassed due to ” genuine religious beliefs ”. But the department said it couldn’t determine whether Bishop Sycamore had such beliefs.
The ODE concluded that Bishop Sycamore was not a school but “a way for students to play football against high school teams and potentially increase the chances of students playing football at the college level.”
“The cost of this dream for these students was not just the tuition fees charged to attend school,” the department said in its report on Friday. “The prize was the education that the students were entitled to receive.”
The department also noted that these schools are not under his supervision and do not require his approval, and that it does not have the power under state law to sanction Bishop Sycamore.
The changes recommended by the ODE included amending state law to allow the department to monitor whether the hundreds of schools claiming to be unlicensed and non-tax-funded meet the more relaxed minimum standards for this category and to require corrective action if necessary.
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