State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) is calling for a criminal probe into the actions of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), an online charter school accused of putting in place a scheme to falsely inflate its attendance in order to overbill Ohio taxpayers for more money. Rep. Fedor, a former educator, has long been an advocate of charter school reform and transparency.
“ECOT owes Ohio taxpayers at least $80 million. The best way to make sure the money is repaid is to have the proper authorities launch a criminal investigation,” said Rep. Fedor. “By not properly examining the whistleblower’s allegations nearly a year ago, Auditor Yost failed the people who elected him.”
A persistent whistleblower repeatedly tried to warn state officials that ECOT put in place a scheme to pad its attendance and collect more public money, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP). His warnings were ignored.
Almost a year ago, the whistleblower met with employees of Auditor David Yost, who was paid $11,400 in campaign donations from ECOT’s founder*. After no movement from Auditor Yost, the whistleblower sent an email to the head of Ohio State Board of Education, who also did nothing. The whistleblower then emailed the Ohio Department of Education’s top lawyer. Only after the AP story was published did the Department say it is looking into the explosive claims.
* Yost also spoke at ECOT graduation ceremonies in 2014 and 2015 and awarded them an Auditor of State Award for exemplary record-keeping in 2016.