The Ohio Department of Education says its latest audit of the state’s largest online charter school shows it once again inflated its attendance. And that means ECOT owes another big bill for the students it was paid to educate – but the state says it didn’t.
The Department of Education says its review of attendance records for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow show ECOT claimed 18.5 percent more student participation last school year than could be verified. The state says that means ECOT was overpaid $20 million for those unverified students. That money is already being clawed back from ECOT’s monthly checks, which were being reduced to pay back $60 million for inflating its student attendance by 60 percent two years ago. ECOT is still fighting the state on that ruling. But this summer the school voted to cut its budget and lay off 250 employees – but not to cut $22 million in annual payments to its founder Bill Lager, who owns two companies that provide management and software services to ECOT.