Gubernatorial candidate blocks access to social media for ECOT supporters

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio gubernatorial candidate and current state Senator Joe Schiavoni (D – Youngstown) has resorted to blocking advocates for ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, on his campaign’s Facebook page.

While his campaign’s public relations team cites that “...multiple posts will be marked as spam...” they’re hiding behind this to silence ECOT supporters.

As over 13,000 students scrambled to find a school, and hundreds of teachers and other support staff scrambled to find employment, Schiavoni’s PR director, Rachel Coyle, reacted with contemptuous glee: “They told us it could never be done. They said #ECOT was too big. Bill Lager had too much money. He donated to too many GOP legislators.”

She contends that the decision was in the “best interest of the children.” How is closing down a school that has saved thousands of children over the last eighteen years, in their “best interest?” Without ECOT, many of these students would not have graduated. Schiavoni’s PR team even admits, albeit indirectly, to hiding negative comments: “We have chosen to make the above comment public again.”

Coyle also incorrectly states that ECOT is a “for-profit” charter school. While its’ founder, Bill Lager, made money off of the iQity software that was used by ECOT students, he did not make money off of ECOT’s day to day operations.  Lager earned money from iQity in that the software was sold to other schools as a way of keeping track of student performance. He is liable for $0 – he worked within the school funding system to provide a service to Ohio’s children at a fraction of the taxpayer’s cost.

While supporters of ECOT are bullied and silenced on Schiavoni’s campaign Facebook page, their PR director reacts with happiness and elation at the sight of thousands of displaced parents, teachers, students, and other support staff. Indeed, the campaign reserves the right to govern their use of social media as to how they see fit.

This is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, in that this member of the state legislature refuses to even hear the grievances brought forth by concerned parents, staff, alumni and current students.

By Thomas Hanks

ECOT is involved in a legal action with the Ohio Department of Education. The department is attempting to limit school choice by ripping funding away from ECOT and other eschools based on selective and retroactive enforcement of absurd attendance rules. ECOT is challenging the ODE in the Ohio Supreme Court.

We need your help. Please Take Action Now to support school choice and ECOT in Ohio.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by authors and interviewees on ECOT PALS blogs are the author's and interviewees alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) or any other individual or group. Would you like your opinion or story to be published on the ECOT PALS blog? Please contact us to inquire.