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Ohio Auditor Turns ECOT Findings over for Criminal Investigation

Auditor Dave Yost press conference

Editor's note: The complete audit has been added to this story.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost has referred findings in his long-awaited audit of what was the state’s largest charter school over to the U.S. attorney's office and Franklin County prosecutor for possible criminal charges.

Yost released the audit of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow this morning. It concludes the online school gave the state “junk data” that purposely inflated attendance. In the case of one student, it listed instructional hours at nearly 8,900 – more hours than there are in a year. He also accuses the Ohio Department of Education of accepting “fake proof” it never should have.

Even after the controversy initially erupted over how ECOT was counting learning time -- and being paid tens of millions of dollars by the state -- Yost says the Ohio Department of Education accepted numbers that were likely inflated.

He accuses both the school and department of such incompetence that “it’s amazing that any money went to education whatsoever.”

The school has denied it did anything intentionally wrong.

Yost himself has come under heavy criticism from Democrats over campaign contributions he got from ECOT’s founder, Bill Lager, and over his failure to act sooner. Yost is running for attorney general. His Democratic opponent, Steve Dettelbach, was on the attack even before the audit’s release, pressing Yost on why he didn’t turn whistle-blower information over to criminal investigators a year ago.

Yost announced today he’ll give $29,000 in political contributions from Lager to charity.

The Associated Press contributed to this account.