A former educator at a now-closed online charter school in Ohio says a legal fight has hurt not just the school but the 12,000 students it served.
ECOT Academy, the largest online school in the state, was forced to shut down as it fights the Ohio Dept. of Education in court.
Citing questionable student attendance numbers, the state has demanded millions of dollars for public school funds that flowed to the private company.
Two state courts have ruled against ECOT and an appeal is now pending before the Ohio Supreme Court over a $60 million demand, The Columbus Dispatch has reported.
Laura Beth McNamara, a former ECOT assistant principal, tells OneNewsNow that the Dept. of Education has forced ECOT to pay back $2.5 million a month and that figure has now been raised to $4 million.
"And it just seemed like it was strategically done to put us out of business," she claims, "before we had our chance for due process, before we had our day in court."
The online school was forced to close last week, and McNamara says that means that students who live in dangerous neighborhoods, or who are bullied at school or have health issues, cannot use ECOT any more.
Some state legislators have come to ECOT's defense during its appeal process and in particular the students affected by the mid-year closing, the newspaper story reports.
The situation has also caught the attention of Christian organizations in Ohio that are encouraging the state to take action to re-open the online school.