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DeWine Calls On Attorney General To Determine Whether Bishop Sycamore Violated Any Laws

The football team for Columbus online charter school Bishop Sycamore (players in black uniforms) line up for an offensive play against powerhouse IMG Academy out of Florida in a nationally televised game on ESPN Sunday, August 29, 2021 at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Bishop Sycamore lost the game 58-0.
ESPN
The football team for Columbus online charter school Bishop Sycamore (players in black uniforms) line up for an offensive play against powerhouse IMG Academy out of Florida in a nationally televised game on ESPN on Sunday, August 29, 2021 at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Bishop Sycamore lost the game 58-0.

Governor Mike DeWine is calling on Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and others to determine whether those involved with the Bishop Sycamore scandal violated any civil or criminal laws. This comes after the Ohio Department of Education's investigation of Bishop Sycamore High School.

In a statement released on Friday, DeWine said, "This report confirms numerous disturbing allegations regarding Bishop Sycamore. There is no evidence that the ‘school’ enrolled students this year, had a physical location for classes to meet, employed teachers, nor offered any academic program meeting minimum standards."

In August the Bishop Sycamore High School football team suffered a major defeat to one of the top teams in the country at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton which was broadcasted by ESPN. The high school was later accused of not being a real school at all and was scrutinized for misrepresenting itself to ESPN.

Bishop Sycamore refers to itself as a private online high school and plays independently of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Ronald Peterson, the director of Bishop Sycamore High School and a coach on the football team, denied the team misrepresented themselves to ESPN and defended their decision to play the blowout game. Peterson said Bishop Sycamore was founded four years ago, is registered with the Ohio Department of Education, and that they don't receive funds from the state because they are a private school with mostly online classes.

A spokesperson for the OHSAA said in a statement that “Bishop Sycamore is not an OHSAA member school, so we don’t have much information about them. Whether or not they are an actual school would be up to the Ohio Department of Education, not the OHSAA.”

The Ohio Department of Education listed Bishop Sycamore as a non-chartered, non-tax-school for the 2020-21 school year. According to the Ohio Department of Education, "Non-Chartered, Non-Tax Supported Schools (NCNT) are schools that, because of truly held religious beliefs, choose to not be chartered by the State Board of Education."

“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. When an Ohio student goes to school, they deserve a quality education to prepare them for success in the future," DeWine said.

“I am today asking Attorney General Yost and other offices with jurisdiction to determine whether the alleged deception by Bishop Sycamore violated any civil or criminal laws. I intend to work with the Department of Education and legislative leaders to implement the recommendations contained in this thorough report.”