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Education

ECOT Is Still Millions of Dollars in Trouble

bill_lager_speaks_to_crowd_may_2017_-_credit_kasler.jpg
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
Bill Lager speaks to a crowd in May 2017.

The state says the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) still owes tens of millions of dollars for students it didn’t have but was paid to educate. Last year, an audit of what was the state’s largest online charter school was turned over to the Franklin County Prosecutor and the federal government for possible criminal charges. 

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) requested a federal investigation into what happened at ECOT. So that’s stopped his work for now.

“Typically we do not engage in state court investigations or prosecutions while a federal inquiry is under way. And so I'm not sure the status of that but I know that an inquiry was opened by the federal authorities and that that's something that they were actively investigating as late as last December.”

Ohio’s Attorney General has sued ECOT’s founder Bill Lager and his companies to recover up to $200 million, and some school districts have filed paperwork to intervene. ECOT closed last year, but is still challenging a state school board decision that it owes $80 million in overpayments made to it by the state.