- Overall, Ohio schools lost $590 million in funding to ECOT since 2012. In District 12, $105.8 million was diverted from traditional public schools to ECOT over the same period.
- To make up for lost funding, schools in the 12th District were forced to raise $7.1 million in local property tax dollars to subsidize losses to ECOT since 2012.
- GOP candidate for OH-12, Troy Balderson has taken $10,850 in campaign contributions from ECOT founder Bill Lager and ECOT lobbyists.
- Danny O’Connor has not received campaign contributions from individuals related to ECOT.
District by District Funding LossesBelow are the amounts transferred to ECOT from traditional public school districts within Congressional District 12 in the six years beginning in 2012. Only districts with 10% or more of their area within the district are shown.
|School District||Six-Year Total|
|LOUDONVILLE-PERRYSVILLE EX VILL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$290,498|
|BIG WALNUT LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$699,803|
|COLONEL CRAWFORD LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$146,901|
|BUCKEYE VALLEY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$755,548|
|CARDINGTON-LINCOLN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$377,539|
|CENTERBURG LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$234,120|
|CLEAR FORK VALLEY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$322,874|
|COLUMBUS CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$62,897,188|
|PICKERINGTON LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,893,354|
|WALNUT TOWNSHIP LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$377,070|
|DELAWARE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$2,235,565|
|DUBLIN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,034,643|
|EAST MUSKINGUM LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$408,464|
|ELGIN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$153,210|
|FRANKLIN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$548,100|
|GAHANNA-JEFFERSON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,673,660|
|GALION CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$976,680|
|GRANVILLE EX VILL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$85,791|
|HEATH CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$580,128|
|FREDERICKTOWN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$342,909|
|MOUNT VERNON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$2,590,207|
|HIGHLAND LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$456,297|
|HILLIARD CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$2,691,660|
|JOHNSTOWN-MONROE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$364,019|
|LAKEWOOD LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$419,091|
|LEXINGTON LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$643,067|
|LICKING HEIGHTS LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,896,324|
|LICKING VALLEY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$177,765|
|JONATHAN ALDER LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$376,032|
|MADISON LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,602,237|
|MANSFIELD CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$4,054,484|
|MAYSVILLE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$241,282|
|MORGAN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,250,852|
|MOUNT GILEAD EX VILL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$402,196|
|NEWARK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$2,862,686|
|NORTH FORK LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$423,721|
|NORTHERN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$455,142|
|NORTHMOR LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$315,768|
|NORTHRIDGE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$234,170|
|OLENTANGY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$603,908|
|TRI-VALLEY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$638,633|
|PLAIN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$267,510|
|PLEASANT LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$150,513|
|NOBLE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$242,395|
|NEW LEXINGTON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,102,135|
|REYNOLDSBURG CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$2,220,537|
|RIVER VALLEY LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$295,346|
|SOUTHWEST LICKING LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,374,364|
|WEST MUSKINGUM LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$409,038|
|WESTERVILLE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$3,997,740|
|WORTHINGTON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$2,176,859|
|ZANESVILLE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,303,256|
|ONTARIO LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$389,266|
|FAIRBANKS LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$127,720|
|MARYSVILLE EX VILL SCHOOL DISTRICT||$1,556,007|
New Analysis: ECOT Stole Nearly $200 Million from State
Estimate shows ECOT scandal is largest in state historyColumbus, OH – Today, Innovation Ohio Education Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer released a new analysis of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) scandal, finding that the shuttered charter school defrauded the state by at least $189 million since 2000. This is the first published estimate of the total amount stolen by ECOT. When ECOT was caught billing the state a total of $80 million in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 for students they couldn’t prove they actually educated, the immediate question arose: how much more did they potentially rip off taxpayers during their entire 18 years in operation? In 9 of the 18 years of ECOT’s existence, the Department of Education found and documented overpayments of various sizes. Based on these findings, Dyer took the percentage overpayment in each of those years, calculated an average percentage of overpayment during those FTE reviews, then applied that to the years in which ECOT’s enrollment wasn’t scrutinized. The estimated overpayment was combined with the previously reported overpayments, and the result is that approximately $189 million was overbilled during the school’s time in operation. “This is easily the largest scandal in Ohio history,” said Dyer. “ECOT stole nearly $200 million in taxpayer money that should have gone to educate our children. Instead, this money enriched ECOT’s founder and his political allies.” A full explanation of Dyer’s methodology can be found here. In terms of scale, the infamous Tom Noe “Coingate” scandal in 2006 involved $50 million in unemployment insurance money (technically not taxpayer money). Even with this relatively conservative estimate, the ECOT scandal could be four times larger than Coingate – likely even more. Tom Noe was given more than 20 years in prison for his scandal. Will this much larger, taxpayer funded scandal produce similar results? “While it is important to have this number and understand the scope of this scandal, this also raises many more questions that must be answered. The Department of Education and state Auditor owe us a full explanation of how they allowed this to happen for 18 years,” Dyer continued. Despite the size and scope of this scandal, lawmakers have yet to address the underlying issues that allowed this to occur. KEY NUMBERS IN THE ECOT SCANDAL Total taxpayer dollars diverted to ECOT since 2000 – More than $1,000,000,000 Total diverted since 2012 that we can document by each school district – $591,000,000 Estimate for the total amount stolen – $189,000,000
###For more information: All of Innovation Ohio’s ECOT research can be found here: innovationohio.org/ecot
Ohio Taxpayers Forced to Pay $588,000 in ECOT Hush Money
Columbus, OH– The Electronic School of Tomorrow (ECOT) paid $588,000 in hush money to 201 former employees, according to records that the now-shuttered online charter school provided in response to a public records request.
Because ECOT was a public charter school, these severance packages were paid for with taxpayer dollars.
Filed by Common Cause Ohio and Innovation Ohio, the request came after a whistleblower refused to take the money, then told reporters that ECOT purchased and manipulated new software to extract millions of dollars from the state that it did not deserve. Ohio officials are attempting to recover more than $80 million from ECOT, and ECOT is in court, insisting it owes taxpayers no money at all.
All the money was paid out in 2017 as part of a “severance and release agreement,’’ the records show. In addition to “non-disclosure” clauses, the agreements also contained “non-disparagement” clauses.
“Public funds should never be used to pay hush money,’’ said Common Cause Ohio Executive Director Catherine Turcer. “A severance package is supposed to give employees a cushion when they leave – not hide problems from elected officials, administrators, the press and the public.’’
ECOT’s attendance padding has been referred to the FBI and Franklin County Prosecutor for further review, and the scandal has emerged as a central issue in this year’s statewide elections.
The agreement’s “non-disparagement” clauses stipulate that former employees receive severance packages only if they agree that they “have not and will not make statements to anyone that are in any way disparaging or negative towards ECOT, including disparaging remarks about individuals associated with ECOT or the service it provides.”
Stephen Dyer, a lawyer and Education Policy Fellow for Innovation Ohio, said the agreements are not standard.
“The agreements ban employees from making statements to ‘anyone that are in any way disparaging or negative toward ECOT, including disparaging remarks about individuals associated with ECOT or the services it provides,’” Dyer said. “ECOT’s lawyer notes that employees are free to talk with law enforcement. What he does not tell you is that these types of agreements cannot legally prevent people from cooperating with law enforcement.’’
The records request asked for the amount of hush money paid over a five-year period.
While ECOT said it fully complied with the request, charter school researcher Sandy Theis said she is aware of other former employees who signed non-disparagement agreements in exchange for money who are not included in the information that ECOT provided.###
The documents turned over by ECOT are online here: