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 claw back 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, with 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 it was the failure of this school to pay the adults that were supposed to oversee them,” said Dyer.
The school indicates that a tentative agreement with its former sponsor means it still has a chance to stay open because it can continue to pursue its Ohio Supreme Court case against the state education department. ECOT argues ODE imposed attendance regulations retroactively.
Part of the argument is over how ECOT was obligated to tally student participation. The education department forced the school to turn over student log-in data, an action ECOT says it was never asked to do in the past. The full-time equivalent (FTE) review of the 2015-16 school year by ODE found that only 40% of ECOT's students counted as full-time students.