ECOT and its Hush Money

Today, I was honored to be part of a news conference with my colleagues from Progress Ohio and Common Cause to discuss the latest ECOT outrage — that the school had a practice of paying hush money to former employees so they wouldn’t say anything bad about them. And in a further outrage, the agreement also protected the school’s sponsor — the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West.

I’m frankly disgusted that the ESC was included. As sponsor, this is the entity that is supposed to oversee the school on our behalf. Instead, they are joining the school as their partner in secrecy. Either the ESC knowingly was included in the secrecy agreements, or ECOT included them without their knowledge. Both outcomes are problematic and deserve scrutiny of the ESC’s ability to effectively perform its oversight function.

It is time for the legislature to ban these kinds of non-disclosure agreements for public entities except in very rare circumstances. Allowing ECOT and their sponsor to pay taxpayer money to employees to ensure their silence about potential criminal activity is an affront to public policy and the idea of open government and democracy.

Read the Press Release: ECOT’s Offer of Hush Money to Employees Prompts Call for Reform

News coverage: Toledo Blade: Groups explore extent of ECOT ‘hush money’