E-schools, a subset of charter schools that operate “virtually” or online, have had a long history of spotty attendance reporting.
In 2001, the state fined Ohio’s first E-school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), $1.7 million for claiming students it wasn’t educating. The audit performed by State Auditor Jim Petro showed that in September of 2000 the Ohio Department of Education paid ECOT funding for 2,270 students while only 7 students actually logged into ECOT computer systems that month.
In 2015 Ohio had 38,737 students enrolled in 24 local and statewide virtual charter schools. The largest continues to to be ECOT with 14,130 students and the second largest is the Ohio Virtual Academy which claimed 11,403 students last year.
Last year, ProgressOhio facilitated whistleblowers contacting Ohio legislators with documentation of the Ohio Virtual Academy’s failure to unenroll chronically truant students. That documentation was forwarded to State Auditor David Yost.
Following the allegations, Innovation Ohio conducted their second analysis of Ohio’s e-schools and found:
More than half the money going from better school districts to charter schools ends up with 6 statewide e-schools;
98% of children attending charter schools that perform worse than their feeder districts went to those 6 statewide e-schools; and
Taxpayers subsidize Ohio’s e-schools to the tune of $104 million.
In August 2015, State Rep. Teresa Fedor, again called for an independent investigation into the Ohio Virtual Academy for attendance fraud.