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ECOT students can keep school-issued computers

(April 10, 2018) — For ECOT, the cost of recovering computers that the school gave its 12,000 students far outweighs the gain of gathering and reselling them.

At a Friday morning hearing, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook, who is overseeing the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s dissolution, approved ECOT Interim Master Myron Terlecky’s request to abandon computers currently in possession of students, as well as other assets in the field.

ECOT Assistant Interim Master Richard Kruse said that recovering the since-devalued laptops would result in a net loss of more than $200,000 for the school, which owes $80 million to the state for unverified student enrollment.

ECOT suspended operations last month, but operators hope to resolve its financial issues and reopen in the fall.

Terlecky told Holbrook that some federal funds might still be owed to the school. Terlecky said those funds, as well as the liquidation of ECOT’s assets, might give the school enough money to resume operations, but the school would need to slash spending.

Brittany Halpin, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Education, said ECOT is closed and cannot resume operations because it was suspended by the state after its sponsor terminated its contract. Parents or guardians who haven’t already enrolled their students elsewhere should do so as soon as possible, she said.

Terlecky said ECOT is cooperating with districts where former students have enrolled, and said ECOT is still responsible for the records of students who have not yet been admitted to another school.

The school is waiting for the Ohio Supreme Court to rule on ECOT’s claim that the state Department of Education illegally imposed a retroactive rule change that led to ECOT owing $80 million. A favorable ruling, school officials say, would allow it to reopen.

At an Ohio Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said ECOT attorney Marion Little’s argument that ECOT should receive full funding for students even if they rarely logged in was “absurd.”

“I’m not sure the chief justice is going to rule in our favor, but it only takes four,” ECOT attorney Chris Hogan said Friday.