Defunct online charter school fights order to repay $60M

A defunct online charter school is fighting an order to refund $60 million in taxpayer money that had been paid to the school.

In 2016, the Ohio Department of Education determined that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow could not back up its student participation claims for the 2015-16 school year when it received $108.9 million in state funds. ECOT was ordered to repay $64 million — a figure that was later adjusted down to $60.35 million.

ECOT fought the order through the courts and state Board of Education and lost but it is now making another run at overturning the repayment order.

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The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 2 on the case. The question is whether ECOT has the right to appeal a state school board decision to the common pleas court.

ECOT closed its virtual doors in January 2018 and auctioned off its assets in May 2018. ECOT had been Ohio’s largest online charter school, claiming enrollment of more than 15,000 students. The school first graduated students in 2001.

A state audit of ECOT was referred to the U.S. Attorney and Franklin County Prosecutor in May 2018.

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