ecot Education Classroom of Tomorrow

Ohio state school board seeks another $19 million from shuttered online charter school

Ohio says the Education Classroom of Tomorrow has received $80 million in state aid overpayments because of suspect enrollment figures.

The Ohio Board of Education school board has voted to seek recovery of $19.2 million from the Education Classroom of Tomorrow online charter school for alleged overpayments to the school for the 2016-17 school year.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the vote does not add any new money to the $80 million the school, commonly known as ECOT, has been widely reported to owe the state. 

The school closed last month after the Ohio Department of Education rejected ECOT's efforts to reduce the amount owed. ECOT's sponsor, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, said the school does not have the money to survive.

The state board's latest vote—15 to 0—affirms education department findings from September and officially adds the $19.2 million to the $60.3 million the state is already seeking to collect from ECOT. 

Officials with the state had no comment on how it would recover money from a school that is closed and has said it is nearly broke. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria has indicated to the board that the state has other options of recovering the cash.

ECOT did not appear to have any representatives at the board meeting.

The online school and the state have been arguing for two years over the disputed state funding provided to the school. After years of allocating tax dollars based on the school's reported enrollment, Ohio has started requiring ECOT and other e-schools to prove how much its students participate in classes.

Under the new requirements, ECOT was able to document class participation of only 6,300 of its 15,300 students  for the 2015-16 school year. That prompted the state school board to demand that ECOT repay $60 million.

The state subsequently concluded that for the 2016-17 school year, ECOT can properly document only about 11,600 of the 14,200 students it claimed.

The school has objected to the requirement and is fighting it in court. The dispute is set to go before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, ECOT pursued an administrative appeal of the 2016-17 findings. State hearing officer Karl Schedler ruled against the school Jan. 22.

TAGS: Funding
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