Supporters of the now closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow say the past few days have been devastating for students, families, and teachers. The online charter school closed because its sponsor voted to drop them. But there are school and state officials who are holding out hope.
ECOT is asking its sponsor to rethink its decision to pull its charter.
Lake Erie West dropped ECOT because it was running out of money due to the state’s collection of $60 million to make up for students ECOT couldn’t verify.
But Republican Representative Andrew Brenner says the state can keep ECOT accountable...and open.
“If it’s about the dollars then why are they clawing all the money back immediately in order to shut the school down in the middle of the school year knowing that it probably won’t come back,” said Brenner.
ECOT is asking the state to reduce the claw back from $2.5 million to $1.9 million, believing this could convince Lake Erie West to return as a sponsor.
ECOT Founder Bill Lager is known to be a big fundraiser for Republican candidates. Part of the offer was for ECOT to cut ties with Lager and to no longer pay his education operations vendor, Altair Management.
The claw back is the result of a review of ECOT's student participation which found that the school only had 40% of the full time students it said it had. The review used student log-in information, data ECOT says the state never asked for in previous audits.
The argument over that review and claw back is now sitting in the Ohio Supreme Court.
UPDATE: The Ohio Department of Education said in a statement that reads in part:
"The Ohio Department of Education’s top priority continues to be assisting ECOT students and families through this transition. We’re also working with ESC of Lake Erie West to assist it in carrying out ECOT’s suspension....After two years of trying to work with ECOT, it’s important to note they still refuse to cooperate in good faith with the Department to accurately report their students’ participation – a direct reflection of the amount of education a student receives. Had ECOT accurately reported student participation, the records would have shown that students were not getting the education taxpayers paid for. This isn’t good for students or taxpayers alike. Based on their actions, the Department has no confidence that ECOT intends to follow the law. We’re disappointed that ECOT and its for-profit vendors, IQ Innovations and Altair Learning Management, continue to prioritize their monetary gain over the best interests of 12,000 students."