Learn from ECOT situation

Since charter schools began popping up in Ohio, there have been arguments for and against them. While some are concerned about the funding they funnel away from public schools and a potential lack of supervision, others say they grant families the opportunity to find the form of education that works the best for each child.

The largest such school in the state is currently being asked to return $60 million under a claim that enrollment numbers were inflated. School officials say those numbers reflected documented learning opportunities and not necessarily logged-in classroom time.

As we watch the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) possibly prepare to shut down under this financial burden, we can all probably agree on one thing: that the ECOT students shouldn’t be in the middle of all this uncertainty. They are the ones most hurt as the legal proceedings go on and they wonder if they will have to go to another school.

Marietta student Mariah Parks is just months from graduation but doesn’t know if her school will still be open in the spring and how she will be affected. The charter option was a salvation for her after she was bullied in middle school. She should never be in this position now.

ECOT should have made sure it had clear enrollment records and data and been prepared to share those with the state all along. Whether or not they agree with the state requirements, leaders should have known those requirements before the school opened and been prepared to comply.

We hope other charter schools take note. This case doesn’t have to discourage them from operating but it should encourage them to be cautious, careful and compliant. This school serves 14,000 across the state and more than 50 in Washington County. For their sake, we don’t want another situation like this to take place.