COLUMBUS – Today, Senator Joe Schiavoni and State Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd, candidates for Ohio Governor and Lt. Governor, called for a criminal investigation in Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT).
Their call comes after an Associated Press report alerted the public to the existence of communications between an ECOT whistleblower and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
“We’ve fought for years to hold for-profit charters like ECOT accountable. Now we know a whistleblower has been saying for months that ECOT intentionally took unearned money from the state. Where has Attorney General DeWine been all this time? Where were previous Attorneys General before that? This has gone on a decade too long, and it needs to end here,” said Senator Schiavoni.
“If someone inside the organization is claiming this intent, then taxpayers and students deserve an investigation.”
Senator Schiavoni started digging into online charter schools back in 2015, when failing e-school grades were not included in sponsor ratings. Joe’s research led him first to smaller e-schools like Provost Academy, then to ECOT, prompting a years-long fight to pass legislation that would create accountability for online charter schools.
Stephanie Dodd, an elected member of Ohio’s State Board of Education, has also been communicating with the ECOT whistleblower in her capacity as a state board member.
Stephanie has been seeking answers from the Ohio Department of Education regarding why this information was not conveyed to State Board members earlier, and why no one had yet called for a criminal investigation.
“As elected members of Ohio’s State Board of Education, our constituents expect us to take action to prevent schools like ECOT from failing their children. We cannot do that without all available information,” said Stephanie Dodd.
“I echo Senator Schiavoni’s call for an immediate investigation – criminal, if that’s warranted – into ECOT’s activities over the past several years. We cannot allow ECOT’s closure to let major players walk free if these overpayments were intentional.”
Stephanie Dodd has taken two votes on the State Board of Education to require ECOT to return the money it owes to taxpayers.
Senator Schiavoni’s bill to better regulate online charter schools, SB 39 (previously SB 298), is currently held up in the Ohio Senate Education Committee.
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