Judge allows online charter's suit against Ohio to continue

Ohio's largest online charter school may proceed with a lawsuit that seeks to block an enrollment audit the state says is necessary to determine its future funding, a judge ruled.

In denying the Ohio Department of Education's request to dismiss legal action brought by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jenifer French said the school's claims that the department is breaching its financial agreement and attempting to single out ECOT warrant further airing in court.

French said in deciding whether to toss the case that the court must assume the school's allegations are true. "ODE's attempt to dispute the allegation that ECOT was singled out does not provide a basis" for dismissal, she wrote in the ruling, released late Monday.

The state argued it has treated 10 other e-schools the same as the Electronic Classroom, which has been engaged in a high-stakes fight with the state that's included both legal action and television ads.

In court filings, the Education Department told the judge that even singling out the Electronic Classroom would be a rational action, given the more than $100 million the school has received in state taxpayer dollars just in the most recent fiscal year.

Neil Clark, a spokesman for the school, welcomed French's ruling.

"ODE has wanted to act as legislator, judge, jury and executioner for e-schools," he said in a statement. "Today the court rejected that abuse of power."