Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Net-based charter school chief is removed

COLUMBUS - The superintendent of the state's only Internet-based community charter school, which was approved by the Lucas County educational service center, was removed yesterday by school officials.

Dr. Coletta Musick said she was asked to leave the offices of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow here and suspended without pay by the chairman of the board of directors and the school's co-founder.

School officials said she was placed on paid administrative leave.

The action was taken after concerns regarding the superintendent were raised by board members and school employees, according to spokesman John Ledingham.

Mr. Ledingham and Donald Wihl, chairman of the board of directors, declined to elaborate on the nature of those concerns. “At this time, I can't comment on it,” Mr. Wihl said. “She has to be confronted with the charges. We're in the process of collecting all the information that we need at this time.”

The five-member board was meeting last night to deal with the situation.

The superintendent said she never was given a reason for the action.

“I can't speculate on why they decided to take the action,” Dr. Musick said. “I was not told there were concerns, and I do not believe that there were. I can virtually assure you there was no concern by teachers or board members.”

Clyde Card, a board member, said before last night's meeting that he was not aware of any concerns regarding the superintendent.

The three other board members and William Lager, the school's co-founder and chief executive officer of Altair, the management company that operates the school, could not be reached for comment last night.

Several school employees rallied behind the superintendent, calling her an open, respected leader.

“I have 35 teachers and I haven't heard one negative word against Coletta. They've all had positive spirit toward her and her leadership ability,” said Rick Dawson, ECOT's secondary education director.

Instead, he said, “there have been comments made about how the corporation has been run by the CEO.”

Mr. Dawson declined to describe those comments.

The commotion is not the first at the school where students work on computers out of their homes across the state and which was approved by the Lucas County educational service center board in February.

ECOT's enrollment numbers have been criticized by some districts losing students to the school, saying they haven't been able to verify the numbers.

Under Ohio's charter-school law, the online school will receive a state subsidy of about $4,500 a pupil. The state estimates it will provide the school $10.7 million in aid through the school year.

The school, which founders have touted as the nation's first Internet charter school, did not go online until mid-October, bothering many local parents who were waiting for the school year to begin. The school began installing computers in students' homes then and has about 1,850 deployed at this point. There are 2,541 students enrolled in the school now, Mr. Ledingham said. In the meantime, students without ECOT computers can use their personal computers or receive educational materials through the mail, he said.

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