The Latest: ECOT to pursue other suits despite latest defeat
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on a lawsuit involving Ohio’s once-largest online charter school (all times local):
The attorney for a now-shuttered Ohio online charter school says the school is disappointed with an Ohio Supreme Court ruling against it, but will continue to pursue administrative appeals against the state in lower courts.
Lawyer Marion Little says two dissenting opinions Wednesday explained well why the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow should have prevailed. The school closed in January.
Justices ruled 4-2 that the state acted within its authority when it used student participation data, not just enrollment, to determine that ECOT, then Ohio’s largest online charter school, should repay $60 million from one school year.
Little says the ruling leaves ambiguous what should happen to state dollars under circumstances such as an online student missing a day of school due to illness.
The department defends requiring documentation as best for students and taxpayers.
The Ohio Department of Education says it’s pleased it has won a legal challenge over its authority to use student participation data, not just enrollment, to determine funding for a now-shuttered online charter school.
Spokeswoman Brittany Halpin says in a statement that the Ohio Supreme Court’s 4-2 ruling in the state’s favor Wednesday “confirms the expectation that Ohio’s online schools document the education they provide.”
The ruling against the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which closed in January, involves $60 million from one school year that the state says ECOT must repay.
Halpin says requiring documentation ultimately is “what’s best for students and taxpayers alike.”
ECOT argued the Education Department overstepped its authority when relying on student learning time data. ECOT said it was treated wrongly and differently than brick-and-mortar schools.
The Ohio Supreme Court says the state acted within its authority when it used student participation data, not just enrollment, to determine a giant online charter school should repay $60 million from one school year.
Wednesday’s 4-2 ruling comes as the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow remains of interest to prosecutors reviewing audit findings and politicians raising accountability issues in a midterm election year.
ECOT argued Ohio’s Department of Education overstepped its authority when relying on student learning time data. ECOT said it was treated wrongly and differently than brick-and-mortar schools.
The cash-strapped e-school was among the nation’s largest, with about 12,000 students, when it shut down in January after the state started recouping money.
A former employee alleges ECOT intentionally inflated attendance data. ECOT’s former spokesman dismissed those allegations.