Parents, teachers heartbroken after Electronic Class of Tomorrow loses sponsorship

Parents, teachers heartbroken after Electronic Class of Tomorrow loses sponsorship

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - About 12,000 students and 800 teachers and faculty are unsure of what Monday will bring them after the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West voted to suspend their sponsorship of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

Board members say due to the financial problems the school faces, they had no choice but to vote unanimously to suspend the sponsorship.

However, parents and teachers are outraged at the decision.

"What options do we have?" one parent shouted.

"Don't give up well what the hell are our options?" another parent asked seconds later.

Parents say ECOT changed their child's life. One of those is Lisa Burford, whose daughter is deaf.

"It empowers her and makes he feel like she is able to achieve her goals," Burford said. "It's sad that's, that's who this is affecting the kids. They are the one's being hurt by this."

Several pleaded with the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West with tears in their eyes to keep ECOT open.

"Tonight there are parents who here in fear to find out that this amazing school may be closed," mother Allysa Edwards said.

Teachers also pleaded with the board, saying they take less pay for the experience of working with a special group of children.

"We work for less than regular schools," teacher Heather Townley said. "We choose this."

The problems began after the Ohio Department of Education changed how they counted students' hours for online schools. Because of this, ECOT owed $60 million.

So far, the school has paid back $25 million, but they miss out on millions more.

Those numbers are what led the board to suspend their sponsorship, meaning the school cannot offer classes to the kids.

"The decision was made because there isn't sufficient resources to get through the end of the school year," ESCLEW board president Michael Dansack said.

While parents and teachers may understand the numbers do not add up, the decision is nevertheless heartbreaking for those who invested so much into the school.

"Its heartbreaking that the Ohio Department of Education doesn't really care about kids. They made that really clear," teacher Hannah Mayley said. "It's a shock still. I think I'm still in shock. It's hard to process."

Some parents worried seniors may be unable to find another school to finish their year, causing them to drop out.

ECOT, however, will take the case to court in February.

The Ohio Department of Education offers resources on their website for families and staff members affected by the suspension.

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