Ohio auditor subpoenaing data from closed online school ECOT

By Kantele Franko - Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state auditor is subpoenaing computer data from Ohio’s largest online charter school to preserve information should the funding dispute that caused the e-school’s closure be followed by a criminal case, his office said Friday.

The auditor’s office told the judge overseeing the process of closing the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow that it wants to copy data from ECOT’s remaining administrative computers and servers. That move comes ahead of an ECOT equipment sale scheduled to start next week.

ECOT attorney Christopher Hogan told Franklin County Judge Michael Holbrook that the school opposes the idea of the auditor’s office getting unfettered access to records that may include sensitive information about students but it doesn’t object to records being preserved through proper legal processes.

“ECOT has nothing to hide,” Hogan said. “I think it’s unfortunate that we have politicians and certain elements in the media continuing to use ECOT as a talking point for data manipulation without obtaining or even trying to obtain the full story.”

The virtual school has challenged how the state tallied student participation to determine ECOT should repay tens of millions of dollars, a decision that led to its closure as it ran out of money.

Much of the recent attention on ECOT involves a former employee’s claims that the school intentionally inflated attendance figures tied to its state funding.

Auditor Dave Yost’s spokesman, Ben Marrison, has said the ex-employee’s information was considered for an ECOT financial audit that was supposed to be released this week but was delayed.

Yost’s office attributed the delay to new information about money used in an ECOT advertising campaign attacking Ohio’s effort to recoup funding.

Marrison said Friday that it would be improper to speculate on whether the audit would lead to any criminal charges.

By Kantele Franko

Associated Press