Editorial: E-school partners owe taxpayers, too

The Columbus Dispatch

Many of the problems with Ohio’s charter schools — and there have been plenty — stem from too-cozy ties among the schools, their vendors and their supposed watchdogs. So state Auditor Dave Yost is right to insist that, when schools have to pay back taxpayer money they didn’t deserve, all parties should bear the burden.

These include sponsors, authorized by the state to provide guidance and ensure that schools comply with all applicable laws, and private management and educational-service companies that receive a set percentage of a school’s revenue from the state.

Recent state investigations of the Electronic Classroom for Tomorrow (ECOT) and other online charter schools have found that the schools — paid based on enrollment — claimed thousands more students than they could verify with log-in information.

ECOT has been ordered to repay $60 million because it claimed and was paid for 15,322 students in the 2015-16 school year. It could verify only 6,313. At least eight other online charters have been ordered to return overpayments.

Yost recently declared that, in overpayment cases where schools contracted to pay their vendors and sponsors a percentage, the schools should recover from those sponsors and vendors a like percentage of what they have to repay.

Read the full op-ed here.