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Education

ECOT Founder Rallies Supporters and Defends His School at Ohio's Statehouse

photo of Bill Lager
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The battle between the state and its largest online charter school brought supporters of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, or ECOT, to the Statehouse. The crowd of hundreds of students, parents and teachers also included a well-known but rarely seen figure.

The crowd cheered loudly for Bill Lager, who rarely makes public appearances. Lager, who’s donated millions to mostly Republican lawmakers and candidates, said he created ECOT to help kids who are chronically ill or have trouble learning. And he said every family in Ohio has a child in their lives who wants an education outside of a traditional public school.

”That’s what ECOT is. That’s what ECOT always will be.”

ECOT is fighting a judge’s ruling that it return $60 million in state funding for student enrollment it claimed but couldn’t prove. The school says it’s complied with state law but that the Ohio Department of Education has changed its rules on counting students.