COLUMBUS — Ohio Auditor Dave Yost apparently has a newfound religion on overseeing the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow — a failing e-charter whose founder is one of Yost’s largest supporters — but his office was asleep at the wheel in 2014 when a whistleblower came forward with troubling allegations.
“Dave Yost is more than a day late and a dollar short when it comes to cracking down on ECOT — he’s three years late and $60 million short,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Ohio Republicans — including Dave Yost — have taken millions from for-profit charter school operators, at the same time many of those charter schools have been failing our kids and ripping off the taxpayers. ECOT owes the state $60 million for the last school year. If Yost had done his job in 2014, perhaps the taxpayers wouldn’t be battling with ECOT in the courts right now to claw back those funds.
“There are only two reasons why ECOT has not been held accountable in Ohio — either the auditor’s office is incompetent in overlooking clear signs of impropriety and fiscal mismanagement or they are allowing campaign contributions to influence their decision-making.
“We continue to call on Yost to return the contributions he has received from ECOT’s founder, and we are calling on Yost to answer why his office gave ECOT an award for ‘excellent record-keeping,’ given all they knew about the e-charter.”
Last year the Columbus Dispatch revealed that Yost’s office failed to crack down on ECOT when a whistleblower “made allegations that ECOT was cooking its attendance books” in 2014. Instead of conducting an audit of ECOT, Yost’s office negotiated an agreement with the charter school that effectively tied the auditor’s hands from fully examining the allegations.
ECOT receives more than $100 million annually from Ohio taxpayers. The school and its founder, William Lager, were highlighted in the New York Times last year as a dropout factory. However, that disastrous performance didn’t deter Yost from speaking at ECOT’s graduation in 2014 and 2015 and presenting ECOT with his ‘Auditor of State Award with Distinction.’
In January Yost announced his campaign for Ohio attorney general. As a candidate, Yost has received $11,400 in contributions from Lager, making him one of Yost’s biggest supporters.