My Town NEO: ECOT Kids Apparently Shunning Bricks-And-Mortar Schools

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Originally published in My Town NEO – January 26, 2018

While Ohio’s largest school districts are reporting a small flow of former ECOT students applying, just a pair of for-profit virtual schools already has seen 3,200 sign up.

Marie Hanna, the superintendent for the Ohio Connections Academy, said that from last Friday through Thursday, the school received 1,200 new applicants from the approximately 12,000 enrolled with the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which was shut down by its sponsor late last week.

And, as of Monday, more than 800 students enrolled and nearly 2,000 began the enrollment process at the Ohio Virtual Academy.

“We’re working closely with our authorizer and the state Department of Education to ensure compliance and a smooth process for these families,” said Kristin Stewart, senior head of the school.

“The OHVA board has made it very clear they want our school to do whatever we can to help these parents and students during this difficult time.”

Online schools have seen a much greater level of enrollment than Columbus City Schools.

Scott Varner, the system’s executive director of strategic communications, said the schools had enrolled around 36 students, with more than 100 waiting for enrollment appointments. Varner said families should enroll their students in schools regardless of ECOT’s status.

“One of the challenges right now for some of our ECOT families is the sense of unknown,” Varner said. “We don’t want any kind of educational break for any student.”

Meanwhile, a Franklin County judge approved the appointment of an interim master Thursday to oversee ECOT’s assets and closure of the online school, which suspended operations last week.

Under the agreement between ECOT and its sponsor, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West in Toledo, ECOT can continue its appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which if successful, could allow the school to re-open next year. In the meantime, the interim master will ensure student educational records are transferred to their new schools and other closure tasks completed.

Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Holbrook approved the 12-page agreement, which also prevents any creditors or others from coming after ECOT’s assets without his appproval.

“Upon ruling by the Supreme Court … either party may move for modifications to this order, including but not limited to termination of the interim master and assistant master,” the agreement says.

The court appointed Columbus attorney Myron Terlecky as interim master. He will be paid $250 an hour. Richard F. Kruse will serve as assistant interim master for $150 an hour.

To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy visit http://ohva.k12.com/.

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