James P. Boyle, the educator-entrepreneur who founded Ombudsman Educational Services in 1975 and became a leader and role model for the emerging education services industry in the 1990s, died on May 25, 2001, at the age of 68.
Boyle helped found the Association of Education Practitioners and Providers (AEPP), the trade association for the education industry. In 1998, he received the AEPP Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in recognition of his many achievements as a private education provider.
Boyle pioneered the practice of public schools outsourcing educational services to private companies. While serving as a dean and principal/assistant superintendent for Mundelein High School, he developed an alternative education model for students who were not succeeding with the traditional approach to learning. When the North Chicago Community High School asked him to establish an alternative education program to address the high number of expulsions in that district, Boyle formed Ombudsman with the aim of turning dropouts into graduates.
Boyle’s first Ombudsman program was run out of a refurbished gas station, where he worked with 25 students under contract with the local school district. The company now serves some 5,000 students annually in more than 70 learning centers and charter schools in 11 states.
Boyle developed an individualized learning model that enabled students to progress at their own pace while also making sure they had mastered the material. He demonstrated to other education entrepreneurs that a successful educational model could be replicated commercially without losing the integrity of the learning environment.
He is survived by his wife, Loretta Sweeney, the cofounder of Ombudsman; his children Greg Boyle, Megan Chody, Patricia Sweeney, and Sue Datin; and grandchildren Matthew, Jack, Hannah, Elle, and Brett.