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Education

Ohio AG Accuses ECOT of "Corrupt Activity" in Court Argument

photo of Bill Lager
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
A DeWine spokesperson says the claim was only filed now because they were waiting for pending litigation to run its course.

The Ohio Attorney General has filed an argument in court claiming ECOT’s agreements with its management and software service companies constitute a pattern of corrupt activity. And the claim backs up complaints Democratic lawmakers have lodged for years.

The lawsuit goes after Altair Learning Management and IQ Innovations, two companies contracted by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. The issue is that ECOT’s founder, Bill Lager, also controls those two companies, which received nearly $200 million from the state through ECOT.

Attorney General Mike DeWine says in the filing that ECOT can pay off its debts by recovering money from Altair and IQ.

A pattern of corruption
But Democratic Representative Teresa Fedor says this is a pattern of corruption that she and other ECOT critics, mostly Democrats, have been claiming for years.

“AG DeWine is just now taking this step because he knows he’s let the trail go cold, he’s running for governor, he’s running for cover, and he doesn’t want to be held responsible for all of this corruption falling on his lap,” she said.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney argues that they were only recently able to file this claim because they had to wait for other pending litigation to run its course. He adds that it was DeWine who appointed outside council to fight ECOT in collecting claw back money for the Ohio Department of Education.

“We have to go through these legal hurdles before we can finally achieve action so to critics who say something should’ve been done a long time ago, number one, we have been trying to hold ECOT accountable for some period of time, and they’re throwing road blocks up at every turn,” he said.

Too little, too late
Democrats argue it’s still too little too late, noting that they still want DeWine to go after Lager on criminal charges.

The state says ECOT owes more than $1.5 million in unemployment compensation and nearly $62 million for students it didn’t have.