Ohio is a state where charters are so loosely regulated that there is no accountability for taxpayers’ dollars. 
Someone in the state education department decided it was time to take a look at the enrollment figures in online charters, where fraud has long gone undetected because uninvestigated. 
“Aaron Rausch, director of budget and school funding for the Ohio Department of Education, said records for 104 charter schools will be examined this year, including the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the state’s largest online charter school. Enrollment is used to calculate state funding; ECOT has about 18,000 students.
“ECOT canceled its initial review with the state in February. The review has been rescheduled for this month, Rausch said.
“School officials from ECOT reportedly crafted a softened attendance-tracking amendment — floated recently in the Ohio House — which would require online schools only to offer the statewide minimum 920 hours of instruction per school year but not require students to actually participate in those hours.
“The scrutiny from the Ohio Department of Education comes after Provost Academy, a Columbus-based online charter school, agreed to return about $800,000 of the $1 million it received in state aid during the 2014-2015 school year. A review by the Education Department gave the school credit for only 32 full-time students, not the 155 the school reported.
“Another online charter, Lakewood Digital Academy in Hebron, will pay about $150,000 back to the state after officials found it had only 16 full-time students, not the 57 claimed.
“As this year’s reviews begin, Rausch said, “we don’t have anything right now to suggest” additional overpayments. But officials will look closely at three other online charter schools reporting sharp drops in enrollment, state aid or both.
“The 12,000-student Ohio Virtual Academy, based in Maumee, reported “enrollment decreases by approximately 25 percent in fiscal year 2016 and (enrollment) remains flat” for the next four years, according to a five-year financial forecast that school officials submitted to the state Oct. 31.
“The academy was accused last year of padding its rolls by failing to withdraw hundreds of chronically truant students. However, an investigation by its sponsor, the Ohio Council of Community Schools, found the academy failed to properly withdraw only 12 students.
“The 2,000-student Alternative Education Academy, based in Toledo, reported that its state aid will drop about 20 percent to an estimated $10.4 million this year. That’s down from $13.1 million in fiscal year 2014, according to its most-recent financial forecast.
“Ohio Virtual and Alternative Education academies, like Provost, are sponsored by the Ohio Council of Community Schools. Lenny Schafer, executive director of the council, did not return a message seeking comment.
“State officials found Provost counted students who logged in for 60 minutes a day as attending a full day. State rules require them to attend at least five hours. Lakewood officials “had no documentation of their non-computer work,” said education spokeswoman Kim Norris.”
The worst of this mess is not the financial fraud but the educational fraud. Study after study has shown that students in virtual charters learn little. That’s the greatest outrage, that the state permits these inferior “schools” to defraud students.