Ohio Supreme Court Rules ECOT Has No More Appeals Over Money Owed
The Ohio school board’s order requiring a giant, now-defunct online charter school to repay the state $60 million over inflated enrollment figures is final and cannot be appealed, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
In a 4-3 decision, the court delivered what may be merely a symbolic blow to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, once one of the country’s largest virtual charter schools, in its yearslong legal fight against the monetary sanction.
The cash-strapped school shut down in January 2018 after the state started recouping money, leaving roughly 12,000 students scrambling for other options mid-school year. Marion Little, the school’s attorney, noted that a court-appointed special master is still working to wind down the school’s assets, but otherwise declined to comment.
Myron Terlecky, the special master, said, “It would be very optimistic to recover enough funds to make a substantial distribution on the amount that’s owed.”
Still, the high court ruling settled a long-running legal question, finding that a “plain reading” of state law making state board decisions “final” was all that was required.
“When read in context of the entire statute, it is clear that ‘final’ is used in its ordinary sense, marking the end of the enrollment-review statute’s twostep review process was the way to go,” Justice Pat DeWine wrote for the majority.
In a dissent joined by Justices Michael P. Donnelly and Melody Stewart, Justice Sharon Kennedy called the majority’s “grammatical” argument unpersuasive.
“At issue in this case is whether the word ‘final’ is synonymous with ‘not appealable,’” she wrote, arguing that the word’s legal definition can often mean a proceeding is final in one forum but appealable in another.