Thousands of students are either starting in a new school or still looking for a place to take classes after the closure of the state’s largest online charter school. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow is still fighting the state’s clawback of $60 million and blames the state Department of Education for its fate.
But one vocal critic says ECOT only has itself to blame.
ECOT says it closed because the Ohio Department of Education wouldn’t accept a final deal regarding the collection of millions of dollars. Longtime ECOT critic Stephen Dyer, of Innovation Ohio, has said for years that the online charter school was falling short in educating the amount of kids it claimed it was teaching.
But in reality, Dyer says ECOT closed because it could no longer pay its sponsor, Lake Erie West.
“It is frustrating the failure of the school has had on educating the kids was not what necessitated the closure,” Dyer says. “It was the failure of this school to pay the adults that were supposed to oversee them.”
ECOT says it has a tentative agreement with its former sponsor, and can reopen if it wins its Ohio Supreme Court case next month. The state Department of Education argues ECOT has been unable to prove how much time students spend in virtual classrooms, which is how the state measures attendance for online schools. A review of the 2015-16 school year found that only 40 percent of ECOT's students counted as full-time students.
Because of that failure to prove attendance, the state has said ECOT received too much funding, which is paid on a per-pupil basis. But ECOT argues that the state imposed attendance regulations retroactively.