ECOT teachers get paid but lose benefits
A small victory for ECOT teachers who lost their jobs. A judge ordered the teachers will get paid the money they've already earned. However, they will lose their health benefits and lose out on credit for their teacher’s retirement.
A judge ordered an emergency hearing on the closing process of the former online charter school.
The court-appointed interim master, Myron Terlecky, oversees the dismantling of the state’s largest online charter school. It officially closed on January 19, 2018. Court documents showed all teachers and certain staff were laid off effective January 30, 2018.
Terlecky said ECOT has about $6-million in the bank but was holding back funds to pay teachers. The judge said on Friday he wasn’t having it.
"Let’s get the payroll paid, we'll do an order on that right away,” said Judge Michael Holbrook.
"I'm glad we're getting that, I expected that we would because we earned it,” said Hannah Mayle one of the 700 employees who were laid off in January.
Mayle said teachers got a raw deal.
"There are still people out there who are lost and all of us teachers are trying to make our way, they're subbing or finding any kind of work they can do in the middle of the year, it's been rough,” said the teacher currently looking for work.
Teachers not only lost their health benefits but they were terminated one day before they could earn a full year of credit toward their "State Teacher's Retirement System" or STRS.
“Teachers need to work 120 continuous days at a single district to earn a credit for a year for working for STRS, State Teacher’s Retirement System,” said Mayle. “So what I read we’re going to earn 0.66 of that, which is a bummer, especially for people who are later in their careers, especially if they were ready to retire, that’s devastating for them.”
ECOT closed in January after its sponsor severed ties with the online charter school and the state is trying to recoup $80-million the online school received after not verifying student enrollment. In court on Friday, there was a lot of finger-pointing.
"Eventually we're going to come through those crossroads,” said Judge Michael Holbrook, who is overseeing the dissolution of ECOT.
There were also talks about how ECOT is still trying to fight the state to reopen next year. It's a fight the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday, February 13th.
"ECOT's concern about the ability to become the Phoenix rising from the ashes,” said an ECOT spokesman in court.
ECOT said the majority of student records have been transferred to other districts but there's still a lot more work to do.
Another hearing is scheduled before Judge Holbrook next Friday, February 16th at 10 am.