Former Speaker Helping Charter School Conglomerate

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger at the City Club.  Bill Batchchelder, with blue tie, is in the audience.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger at the City Club. Bill Batchchelder, with blue tie, is in the audience.

Charter school advocates speaking at the University of Colorado over the weekend took aim at several underperforming charters in Ohio. Part of the reason-- because of the poor performance of the management company that runs the under performing online school Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow or ECOT.

ECOT recently hired the lobby firm of William Batchelder, the former Speaker of the House. But Batchelder insists he won’t be lobbying his former colleagues in the House because he has not had a one year waiting period since retiring.

“I sponsored the bill that makes it illegal.”
URYCKI: “But hasn’t that been struck down?” [by a federal judge]
BATCHELDER: “As far as I’m concerned it’s not.”

Batchelder says he will be a consultant. But two former aides will be lobbying for his firm, The Batchelder Company.

Some fellow Republican legislators and Governor Kasich want reforms in place to put bad charters out of business but Batchelder remains a supporter.

“I spoke to a graduation class at one of those schools very recently and I said to the valedictorian who was sitting beside me ‘Why are you here?’ and he said ‘Because I’m afraid to go to school in my high school.’”

His successor, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, told the Cleveland City Club Friday that his members are starting "the conversation" on school reforms.

“This is not a witch hunt on charter schools. It’s not to go out and make them look bad but I also think there are things we need to make sure we’re doing the right course of action to make sure the number one priority -and that is our kids- are being taken care of and they’re getting the best quality education. “

Over the last 5 years, ECOT founder William Lager has donated more than a million dollars to state legislators, including more than $42,000 to Batchelder's political campaigns. He gave more than $24,000 to Rosenberger's campaigns the last two years.

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