The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Ohio’s premier pig-in-a-poke “school choice” scandalpalooza, keeps on delivering the hits, with an audit revealing that the enterprise inflated attendance by 9,000 students, bilking the state out of $64 million it didn’t deserve.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

In a letter to the school today, the (Ohio Department of Education) tells the school that it has proper documentation for only 6,300 of its 15,300 students – a 59% gap.

The letter does not spell out how much money ECOT could be forced to return, but with ECOT receiving $109 million last year for the 15,300, $64 million in money is at risk.

What’s a cool $64 million for an extra 9,000 students that don’t actually, y’know, attend? What civic-minded Buckeye would want her hard-earned denarii going to public education when the benefits of privatization and profiteering are so baldly obvious?

We press forward.

A ruling from Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer French later this week could make the audit irrelevant. French heard a week of testimony earlier this month on an ECOT challenge of the audit and the ways the state is counting enrollment.

“We strongly disagree with ODE’s letter which is why we are already in court,” said ECOT spokesman Neil Clark.

We strongly disagree with the department in charge of overseeing education trying to do its job and thereby ruining our unjustified profit windfall. I see you, Neil.

At issue is whether ECOT must only show that students have enrolled and that they log on, however briefly, to avoid truancy violations and to receive full state funding for each student. The state has been seeking proof that students are spending more than one hour a day online, as early reviews showed,

Because the school in the past has not had to provide documentation of the work that its students do, school leaders have said it’s unfair to expect the documentation retroactively for the just-finished 2015-16 school year.

In the court case, ECOT has also pointed to a 2003 agreement between ODE and the school that state funding of the school would be based only on students that enroll and log on at least once.

Well isn’t that special? Full state funding per student as long as little Timmy and Tonya log on at least once. Accountability at its finest. How many days of attendance are required of our public school attendees these days? I believe it was 185 back when I was doin’ my book learnin’.

Log on at least once to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, and this hornets nest of hucksters gets full funding. That’s the analog equivalent of each public school student reading the title of her textbook and then, well, done for the year!

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive’s, the National Journal’s The Hotline, and The New York Observer’s He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.


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