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Few ECOT Students Enrolled In Traditional Schools After Closure

Ashton Marra

Supporters of ECOT—the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow—say the online charter school could reopen if the Ohio Supreme Court rules in its favor during a Tuesday hearing, but students have found alternative classrooms in the three weeks since its closure.

ECOT closed its doors January 18 after its sponsor said it couldn’t afford to keep the school in operation for the remainder of the year.

The decision left some 12,000 students scrambling to find a new school to finish the academic year.

The state’s Big 8 school districts, located in Ohio’s largest cities, prepared to take in large numbers of ECOT students, but actual enrollment has varied.

A Youngstown City Schools representative said three students have enrolled in their district of the 125 who live in the city. A similarly small eight students have ended up in Akron classrooms.

Both Toledo and Canton school districts have taken in 22 students each, and 100 enrolled in Cincinnati.

Of the estimated 800 ECOT students who live in the city’s boundaries, Cleveland reports enrolling 113 students, 60 percent of which are high school aged.

Many ECOT student likely found alternative online options at public charters, like Ohio Connections Academy or Ohio Virtual Academy.

OCA reported 430 students have enrolled in second semester classes. OHVA has enrolled 4,000 new students this semester, but a representative said it’s likely not all of those are from ECOT, but didn’t confirm how many were former students of the closed school.

ECOT’s financial troubles began after the state Department of Education reduced its monthly funding payments by more than $3 million as an attempt to recoup overpayments from previous school years. An audit showed the school wasn’t accurately tracking student participation, which the state said allowed the school to inflate its numbers.

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear what are likely the final arguments over the reduced funding Tuesday.

ECOT students, parents, teachers and supporters are planning a protest outside the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus on Tuesday morning before the hearing.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.