Monday, February 19, 2018

ECOT Bills State for Students ... AFTER IT CLOSES

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow told the Ohio Department of Education on Jan. 23 that it still had 5,580 students, and the state should pay them for educating those students. Trouble was, the school closed Jan. 19 -- four days before that payment was sent to the department.

That's right. It appears ECOT wanted to be paid for students it said it was educating after the school had closed.

To the Department's credit, they issued no taxpayer money to the state's once largest virtual school based on their Jan. 23 request. But the fact that ECOT, even after the end had come, demanded taxpayer money for educating kids everyone knew weren't there because the school had closed, put a rather tight, ironic bow on this school's sordid history.

Remember, it was the fact they couldn't prove they educated $80 million worth of students over the last two years, which then the state demanded they repay, that led to the school's abrupt closing last month.

But that closure didn't stop ECOT from continuing to demand taxpayers give them money. According to department reports, ECOT's February monthly payment to charter schools is based on data received by the state Jan. 23 -- four days after the school officially shut down. 

Fortunately for taxpayers, the school only billed the state for 5,580 students -- not the 11,876 students the school claimed it had enrolled on Dec. 24, 2017 -- the last date ODE looked at prior to the school's closure.

So that meant that the school, if it only had 5,580 students, had been overpaid by about $11 million because the state had paid the school for educating about twice as many students for the first half of the school year. So the school only needed $41.3 million to educate those students all year. However, the state had already paid the school $52 million through January based on the larger enrollment.

And that doesn't include the $30 million payment the school was supposed to cough up in return for charging taxpayers $60 million for students the school couldn't prove it actually educated in the 2015-2016 school year (another $20 million in overpayments was discovered later by ODE for last school year).

So while the state did its job and didn't pay ECOT for kids it claimed it educated while it was closed, the fact that ECOT actually charged taxpayers for this is incredible.

What a scandal. 


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