COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohio’s largest online charter school could close as soon as next week.
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is losing its sponsor.
The Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, which sponsors ECOT says it has initiated proceedings to suspend ECOT’s operations at or near the end of the current semester.
ESC Executive Director Apryl Morin said:
Over the last two years, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West (ESC) has monitored the status of the ongoing funding dispute between the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) as well as the resulting impact on ECOT’s finances. The ESC is aware that ECOT has pursued multiple options that would allow it to remain open for the remainder of the current school year and beyond. We are aware, however, that the Supreme Court of Ohio denied ECOT’s request for temporary relief from scheduled repayments of state funds, and any discussions regarding relief from ODE are at an impasse. In addition, ECOT also recently informed the ESC that it will be unable to secure a bond for its fiscal officer as of this February. Because maintaining a bond for the fiscal officer is a requirement for continued operation of a community school, and given ECOT’s unequivocal declarations that it cannot afford to remain open for the remainder of the school year, the ESC has initiated proceedings to suspend ECOT’s operations at or near the end of the current semester and terminate its sponsorship contract. The ESC will work closely with ECOT and ODE throughout the closure process in the hopes of minimizing any negative impact these proceedings may have on ECOT’s currently enrolled students and their families.
ECOT’s current semester ends January 18.
ECOT’s financial issues date back to 2016 when the state performed and attendance audit. The school couldn’t prove that many of its full-time students were getting the minimum number of learning hours required by the state.
Since attendance is tied to state funding, Ohio asked ECOT to repay more than $60 million in funding.
All of ECOT’s appeals to reverse that decision or stop the state’s efforts to collect the money have been denied.
ESC says it will work with ECOT and the Ohio Department of Education through the closure process to minimize the negative impact in its 12,000 students and their families.
We’ve reached out to ECOT, but they have not responded yet.