Today, outside of Zanesville High School, education advocates discussed the local impact of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) scandal, and blasted State Senator and OH-12 congressional candidate Troy Balderson for his failure to hold the online charter school accountable. Advocates also called out Balderson for initially refusing to give up thousands of dollars in campaign donations he received from ECOT’s founder, Bill Lager.
According to a report by Innovation Ohio, millions of taxpayer dollars were diverted to ECOT from schools in Ohio’s 12 congressional district. Zanesville City Schools lost more than $1.3 million to ECOT.
The scandal involving the now-shuttered ECOT is the largest and costliest scandal in Ohio history.
Joined by Eddy the Eagle, ECOT’s former mascot, Innovation Ohio Education Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer said, “We now know that about $189 million dollars that went to ECOT went to pay for kids that weren’t even in the school. It’s stunning to realize that not only were we giving money to an inferior educational opportunity for students, but we were doing it for students that weren’t even there.”
Dyer added, “The reason this has been allowed to happen is because Bill Lager, who ran ECOT, gave a lot of money to Ohio Republicans, including Troy Balderson. For years, Troy Balderson was in the legislature and had an opportunity to stop what was going on with ECOT, and instead he just kept taking the money and kept keeping silent.”
Earlier this year, a whistleblower revealed that ECOT, formerly Ohio’s largest online charter school, intentionally inflated attendance data and overcharged the state millions of dollars. Despite obvious warning signs that something was amiss with ECOT’s enrollment and attendance data, Ohio Republicans including State Senator Troy Balderson looked the other way as the online charter school scammed Ohio taxpayers and schools out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Watch a recording of the press conference HERE.