Defunct online charter school fights to appeal refund order

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A giant, now-defunct online charter school continued its yearslong fight against repaying Ohio tens of millions of dollars as the state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday over the process for appealing that refund order.

A lawyer for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which was once one of the country’s largest virtual charter schools, argued Ohio law allows ECOT to appeal the State Board of Education decision in county court.

The state’s lawyer disagreed, arguing that ECOT’s only route for appeal was filing a lawsuit directly with the Ohio Supreme Court. The school had done that, too, but the high court dismissed that case in 2017 without explaining why.

ECOT has unsuccessfully challenged how the state tallied student participation data to determine that about $80 million of ECOT’s public funding over two school years wasn’t justified and should be recouped.

The cash-strapped school closed in January 2018. It said it had more than 11,000 students at the time.