You remember Bishop Sycamore, right? The high school football team no one had heard of that got beat down 58-0 to IMG Academy in a game that was somehow broadcast on ESPN and even blasted by the announcers during live TV?
It happened back in August and on Friday, the Ohio Department of Education released the report from its monthslong investigation of the school.
In the 41-page report, investigators determined that Bishop Sycamore “is not a school as it purports on paper to be.” The investigation couldn’t even confirm basic things about the school like its location or the names of any of its teachers. They found zero evidence that students were enrolled at Bishop Sycamore for the 2021-22 academic year.
“The facts suggest that Bishop Sycamore High School was, and is, in fact, a scam.”
The department provided a list of seven recommendations in the report for the governor to consider:
- Not to include Bishop Sycamore High School on the list of non-chartered, non-tax supported schools for the 2021-22 school year
- Consult with the Attorney General regarding potential legal action against Bishop Sycamore High School
- Require non-chartered, non-tax supported schools to submit a copy of their annual report, as required by OAC 3301-35-08, to the Department by July 31 (instead of September 30). In moving up the deadline, the Department would have an opportunity to try to address suspected issues of noncompliance before the first day of school. Additionally, moving up the deadline helps parents in making decisions about their children’s education before school begins.
- Amend the Revised Code to authorize the Department to monitor and enforce non-chartered, non-tax supported school’s compliance with the minimum standards of OAC 3301-35-08 and require such schools to comply with the Department’s investigation and any corrective action required by the Department.
- Require the Department to publish a list of non-chartered, non-tax supported schools that registered with the Department by filing the report required by OAC 3301-35-08 and allow the Department to remove schools from the list for failure to comply with the minimum standards and relevant law. Requiring the Department to prepare and maintain such a list provides another measure of accountability and transparency, and the list can assure parents when evaluating schools and making decisions about their children’s education.
- For schools that have been removed from the list and seek to register in a future school, authorize the Department to verify the schools’ ability to comply with the minimum standards before registering.
Governor Mike DeWine said he plans to work with the department and lawmakers to implement the recommendations listed in the report.
“Ohio families should be able to count on the fact that our schools educate students and don’t exist in name only as a vehicle to play high school sports,” he said. “When an Ohio student goes to school, they deserve a quality education to prepare them for success in the future.”
He also called on Ohio Attorney General Yost to determine whether Bishop Sycamore violated civil or criminal laws.
Yost’s spokesperson issued a statement in response, saying:
“When the story first broke, the attorney general directed the charitable trust section to look into it, and that section found no authority to take action. With the Governor’s broader request, we are examining other sources for legal authority and will respond soon.“
You can read the full report from the Ohio Department of Education here.