Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

ODE Asks Franklin County Court To Force ECOT To Submit Attendance Records

Ohio Department of Education officials are asking a Franklin County judge to force the state's largest online charter school operator to turn over attendance data to determine state funding. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow - or ECOT - has refused to provide the records despite losing a court fight earlier this month to block the department's audit.  Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

ECOT consultant Neil Clark says documents between the Ohio Department of Education and the state auditor’s office show there's confusion over just what is expected from online charter schools during an attendance audit.
The state has been asking ECOT for specific log-in information from students, something that hasn’t been required in the past.
Based on the dates of the letter, the issue was still murky as late as May of this year. Clark says that’s why the state should just audit ECOT under the old standards agreed to in a contract signed in 2002.
Clark: “Because these in a retroactive method with a process that is really unproven that really wasn’t gone through enough public debate of how these should be done I think is troubling.”
The state wants to find out if ECOT students are getting the minimum five hours of instruction time that’s required by law. In the past, ODE has used other methods to determine this but now it wants more log-in information.
To avoid handing over the information, ECOT has sued the state saying that the education department is violating that 2002 contract.
For its attendance records, ECOT currently uses a teacher certification process, where the teacher signs off on how much instruction a student received each day. Clark says this is a more accountable procedure compared to a log-in timesheet.
Clark: “This simple log-in that’s maybe signed by the parents I think it should be a licensed professional that makes those determinations so somebody’s held accountable for their particular teaching license.”
ODE has declined to comment on the issue because of the pending court case. However in a court filing, the department says the records are relevant to the lawsuit and that ECOT has no legitimate reason not to produce them.

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
Related Content