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

photo of Bill Lager

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.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.