COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow was overpaid by the state of Ohio $115 million for students the school claimed it had but could not prove.
When ordered to pay the money back, the online school folded and closed after only returning $8 million.
The outcry over the lost taxpayer dollars was significant but has since waned.
What may have been able to prevent such a catastrophe, would have been better accounting of students and attendance at the e-school.
That is what a new bill introduced by State Representative Kyle Koehler seeks to institute.
Koehler said the bill is about making sure kids are being educated.
“I’m someone who supports school choice, and I don’t care where you’re going. Home school, public school, charter school, private school, I think everybody wants to make sure that students are being educated and this is a bill that helps just a small step in that direction,” said Koehler.
The bill would require online computer-based community schools that are not drop-out recovery schools to track attendance and take action when students are truant.
“It sets forth some common sense regulations so that both the e-school, the public schools, everybody knows what’s going on and especially parents are notified,” said Koehler.
Parents would receive a notification if their student accumulates 30 hours of unexcused absence.
The school itself would be responsible for coming up with a plan to address the behavior and if it continues and the child is disenrolled from the e-school for truancy, the school would have to notify the student’s home district within 48 hours.
Further, if the student is disenrolled for truancy, they would not be able to enroll at another e-school for a year and would be forced to return to their home district.
“The biggest thing is just working so that we don’t have issues in the future where we don’t know who’s enrolled and who isn’t and what district they’re from and what e-school they’re going to,” said Koehler.
That was part of the problem with ECOT, so the question raised was “Would this prevent another ECOT-situation by fixing the loopholes the school used?”
“I think it clears up some ambiguity problems with what happened with ECOT, but is it trying to fix that? I don’t think so,” said Koehler. “I think what we’re really trying to do is just set forth things in code that says, ‘Hey, this is what we definitely see happening. to say that somebody’s enrolled in e-schooling.'”
The bill had its first hearing this week in the Ohio House of Representatives.