Jan Resseger describes the outrageous ECOT scandal in detail. A vigilant press broke the story and alerted the public to a theft of hundreds of millions of dollars diverted from public schools to an online for-profit virtual charter. Now, because of a whistleblower complaint about fraud was ignored by public officials for six months, ECOT is back in the news. It is also in court as the state continues to recover some of the lost money.

The State is dominated by Republicans who happily accepted political contributions from ECOT’s founder,William Lager, and overlooked accountability. The state should “claw back” the money illegally diverted from public schools by going after Lager’s assets.

Resseger writes:

“Although this week’s new Associated Press report about the ECOT whistleblower doesn’t say anything really new about ECOT’s failure accurately to count its students, and even though nobody has imagined that ECOT mis-reported student attendance by accident, the new story is accomplishing something important. Suddenly politicians in the race for governor, state auditor, and state attorney general are accusing incumbents of failure to pay attention and to respond immediately last summer to a whistleblower’s account of what was surely criminal fraud on ECOT’s part. And the incumbents are all scurrying around saying that they paid more attention than anybody knew. Suddenly the ECOT scandal—which died down for a couple of months after the school was shut down in January—is a major topic in the political campaigns for statewide offices in the May 8, primary election.

“In Ohio, where the Governor is a Republican and the state House of Representatives is dominated by a 66:33 Republican majority and the state Senate by a 33:9 Republican majority, we don’t have any checks and balances. It is essential that the over-fifteen-year ECOT ripoff will remain in the news and that candidates running for office demand that voters hold Ohio’s politicians accountable.

“ECOT is now closed, a school in bankruptcy with its affairs being managed by a receiver, but ECOT’s owners are still trying to resurrect the school through the appeal of its case against the state, a case heard finally in February by the Ohio Supreme Court. We await the Court’s decision. Once again, during oral arguments, the press played its essential role. The Dispatch‘s Jim Siegel described the final interchange between ECOT’s attorney and Ohio’s Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor: “As ECOT attorney Marion Little finished his arguments for why, under the law, the online school should get full funding for students even if they only log in once a month and do no work, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor interjected. ‘How is that not absurd?’ she asked.”

“We shall see how the Ohio Supreme Court eventually decides the case. Ohio’s supreme court is elected, and like the legislature, it is majority-Republican. But the persistent coverage by the press has kept pressure on the Court just as it has on the staff at the Ohio Department of Education and on ECOT’s sponsor, The Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West. After all, unless the Supreme Court saves it, ECOT is now closed. It is no longer receiving Ohio tax dollars, even though it still owes the state millions of dollars that had not yet been clawed back prior to the date of its closure.”