State ratchets up legal case vs. ECOT online school, seeks court order to see records
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The state is seeking a court order forcing Ohio's largest online school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), to turn over records showing when students logged on to do schoolwork last school year and for how long.
ECOT earlier this month refused to provide log-in and log-out records to the Ohio Department of Education as the state audits the school's attendance. After finding evidence that many ECOT students spent just an hour logged in to lessons each day, the state is trying to determine if the $108 million it paid ECOT in 2015-16 was inflated.
Despite losing an attempt in Franklin County Court to block the audit, ECOT continues to refuse to provide the records. It has instead dug in its heels and told the state it won't provide them without a court order.
"They will need to file other paperwork with the court and make a request to the court that we submit the other data," ECOT spokesman Neil Clark told Ohio Public Radio.
The state is seeking such an order.
In a filing Saturday, the state asked Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer French to have ECOT provide the records for 1,500 students randomly picked by ODE so that the state can see how well ECOT tracked their schoolwork.
See below for the full filing.
ECOT said it has a 2002 contract with the state that does not require it to provide log-in data.
"ODE is continuing to play politics with this issue and mislead the public instead of sticking to the facts," Clark said.
Barring any changes, the next hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 8.
The state requires students at e-schools to spend 920 hours each school year on "learning opportunities" that can include online classes, but also time spent offline doing research or on field trips.
The state says schools have to show students participated in those "learning opportunities," while ECOT says it only has to offer them.
In the past, the state has allowed ECOT to have a faculty member certify that students were offered "learning opportunities," but never required the school to show that students participated in them, beyond simply logging in regularly.
But House Bill 2, the state's new charter reform law that passed last fall and took State ratchets up legal case vs. ECOT online school, seeks court order to see records | cleveland.com:
Big Education Ape: Many ECOT students spend just one hour online for classes each day, state lawyers say | cleveland.com - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/07/many-ecot-students-spend-just-one-hour.html