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Ohio Supreme Court to Hear Online Charter School Funding Dispute

handonmouse_560x292blog-Getty.jpgThe Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month over the state education department's efforts to recover more than $60 million in funding to Ohio's largest online charter school, according to an AP report.

The dispute, which Education Week covered last year, hinges on student log-in records, which the state uses to determine attendance and enrollment at e-schools. A 2016 audit found that nine schools, including the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), had overreported their full-time enrollment.

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ECOT challenged the audit and brought a lawsuit against the state, arguing that the department of education had retroactively applied new attendance tracking standards.

The Ohio Supreme Court said in December that it would not temporarily stop the state's collecting payments from ECOT.

As of October, the education department had withheld more than $10 million in monthly payments to the school.

The school has said that it will be forced to close in early 2018, in the middle of the current school year, if the Ohio Supreme Court does not intervene. ECOT has said that a closure would displace 12,000 students and cause 800 staff members to lose their jobs.

Ohio's e-charter troubles are the latest in a series of reports of academic underperformance and administrative problems within the industry. 

At the end of 2017, Education Week updated its interactive map that tracks cyber charter challenges, adding new incidences of school closures, attendance issues, financial mismanagement, and other concerns in eight states.

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