(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced a settlement by mutual resolution with the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West regarding disputed overpayments received from the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT).
By June 30, 2019, the charter school sponsor has agreed to repay $879,000 to the state, representing all funds in question for sponsorship fees it received from ECOT. The money will go to a special master appointed by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to oversee ECOT’s remaining assets.
“Lake Erie West deserves credit for taking the high road in agreeing to this repayment,” Yost said. “Although there’s still a lot of work to do, this is a significant step toward paying down the substantial debt that ECOT owes. For perspective, these dollars could have paid for 15 teachers.”
The settlement comes after reviews by the Ohio Department of Education found ECOT lacked documentation to substantiate student participation. The Ohio Board of Education ordered ECOT to repay $60 million based on the 2015-16 school year review, as well as another $19 million based on a review the following school year.
The governing board of Lake Erie West voted on Jan. 18, 2018, to suspend its sponsorship of ECOT, saying the school lacked the funds needed to continue operating. The school shut down the next day.
The Attorney General’s office is involved in four ECOT-related cases pending in the courts. Yost’s office is seeking to recover funds from others affiliated with the school, including Altair Learning Management, IQ Innovations and ECOT founder Bill Lager.