Online charter school ECOT may go offline for good Thursday
The “Electronic Classroom Of Tomorrow" or ECOT may go offline as soon as tomorrow. Court documents show there will be a hearing this Friday. A Franklin County judge has been appointed to take control of ECOT’s operations and finances.
"We just pray that it does stay open because it's a good place,” said Elaine Stavropoulos. Her daughter, 19-year-old Chrsye, has attended ECOT for the past 5 years.
Stavropoulos said her daughter had 2 classes Wednesday but don’t know if she will have any on Thursday. That’s because Stavropoulos said teachers are telling students to turn in their all their materials Thursday.
"They told that they're keeping their fingers crossed and they want to keep it open. Our teachers could have walked away and they didn't because they care about their students,” said Stavropoulos.
Wednesday January 17th was the last day ECOT had to come up with a way to repay the state $80-million. A 2016 audit showed it inflated attendance numbers for two years and that has left about 12,000 kids looking for a new school.
"At some grades we could absolutely take some kids,” said The Graham Family of Schools Superintendent Greg Brown.
The Graham Family of Schools has three public charter schools but unlike ECOT, they are in the classrooms. Brown said any disruption or transition can be a big adjustment for some students.
"We're very concerned as we are with all kids about the seniors and them making it to graduation,” said Brown.
And that's what Elaine is worried about, “If ECOT shuts down I don't know what we will do because she's really a senior and she could graduate."
ECOT has not returned our calls for comment. Its sponsor, the one supporting ECOT, The Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, has not stated if indeed ECOT will close Thursday, just sending us this statement, “The ESC governing board will give full consideration to any remedies ECOT submits before reaching a decision regarding a suspension. We can confirm as previously reported that the ESC has filed a request for the appointment of a receiver, but we have no further comment at this time regarding this pending matter.”
Columbus City Schools said they are reaching out to ECOT families.
The district said 1,200 ECOT students could come back because they were former students.
CCS also released this statement, “Over the next several days, Columbus City Schools will be reaching out to all of those local ECOT families to make sure they understand their options with CCS and have their important questions answered. We may even add evening and weekend hours at our Central Enrollment Center to give ECOT families an opportunity to come in and enroll.
We are still developing a larger action plan to address logistical and record-keeping needs, should there be a major influx. One of our challenges will be getting a complete up-to-date set of records and transcripts from ECOT so we can accurately place students and credit the work they’ve already completed. We’ve been encouraging those families to secure as many of those records as they can now from the ECOT before it closes.”
Educators urge parents to contact their local districts, charter schools, or the Department of Education for help.