Ohio leaders must fight for ECOT funds

Ohio education officials say they have “other options” for recovering the $80 million owed to the state by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, now that the online charter school has shut down. For months, the state Department of Education had been deducting money from state funding for the school, in an effort to claw back funding it says ECOT received by manipulating enrollment numbers.

With the school closed, that method of recovering taxpayer dollars is no longer viable. But officials with ECOT, which, according to audits in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, was unable to provide documentation to support the student participation numbers it claimed, should not breathe easier.

Ohio Department of Education spokeswoman Brittany Halpin suggests the department will work with Ohio’s attorney general to recover the funds, which could indicate the state is hoping to pursue civil action.

Ideas expressed by two candidates for governor include seizing records and assets of not just the school, but its founder, William Lager, and the two companies he founded to do business with the school.

Whatever method is employed, officials must get Ohioans’ money back from ECOT, assuming the state prevails when the Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments from ECOT later this month.

If the court agrees ECOT falsified information to get money from the state, officials should leave no stone unturned in getting every penny of it back.