State: ECOT double-counted students

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In a letter sent to the Superintendent of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, or ECOT, the Ohio Department of Education claims the online charter school was off 58% in its student count.

Student count determines how much taxpayer funds are given to charter schools. Ohio has given ECOT more than $100 million in the past several years, according to budgetary documents.

ODE’s letter to ECOT states, “Based upon the information provided by ECOT to the department for the 2015-2016 school year… the department has made a final determination that ECOT’s FTE (full-time student count) is 6,132.62, which is 58.8 percent less than the 15,321.98 FTE reported by ECOT.”

The state informed ECOT the charter school has 10 days to appeal this determination to the State Board of Education.

“We strongly disagree with ODE’s letter which is why we are already in court. We knew this process was a sham and ODE’s actions prove it. They have and continue to railroad all e-schools in the state. It is impossible for any e-school to meet the retroactive demands of ODE, which is why no e-school in the state has been able to do so. ODE made arbitrary requirements and then applied them retroactively,” said ECOT spokesperson Neil Clark.

Both sides expect a Franklin County judge to issue a decision this week determining whether ODE had the right to audit ECOT’s student count under state law.

10 Investigates uncovered how much this legal battle is already costing taxpayers. ECOT reported $280,000 in taxpayer-funded advertising expenses as of August 31st. That amount does not account for additional legal expenses.

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