I reported yesterday on attempts by an online charter school in Ohio to prevent an attendance audit for fear that the actual numbers related to student attendance would result in a significant loss of funding for the school.
Today, that school is suggesting that if the audit proceeds, the school may have to close.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
The state’s largest online charter school may shut down if it loses a lawsuit seeking to block new student attendance counts, the school superintendent told parents, teachers and other supporters today.
It’s about money — lots of it. Attendance counts are key in determining how much funding schools receive, and if ECOT can’t show that students are logging in or doing other work for five hours per day, the school could lose tens of millions of dollars.
Despite the pleas from the charter school, the state Department of Education argues it is required to protect taxpayer funds and ensure they are not being wasted:
“The public interest lies in seeing that public funds are not wasted and in documenting how they are spent,” the department said. ECOT gets about $106 million in state funding for more than 15,000 students.
A similar review a year ago forced the small online Provost Academy to pay back $800,000 to the state, 80 percent of its funding.
A preliminary audit suggests ECOT (and taxpayers) should be concerned:
A preliminary attendance audit in March found ECOT’s computer records were tracking student participation but “did not substantiate the number of educational hours for which ECOT has billed (the state).”
It seems that if ECOT is doing its job and serving students, there should be nothing to fear. Instead, they are vigorously attempting to stop any effort to hold them accountable for results.
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