Education regulators are reviewing a whistleblower’s claim that Ohio’s then-largest online charter school intentionally inflated attendance figures tied to its state funding using software it purchased after previous allegations of attendance inflation, The Associated Press has learned.
A former technology employee of the now-shuttered Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow said he told the Ohio Department of Education last year that school officials ordered staff to manipulate student data with software obtained following the state’s demand that it return $60 million in overpayments for the 2015-2016 school year. He also took his claims to Republican Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, whose office said they were incorporated into a financial audit being prepared for release.
The employee spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity for fear of professional repercussions for speaking out. His concerns were first raised in an Aug. 3 email to the state a month before it released its 2017 attendance review of ECOT.
The state challenged ECOT over how it claimed student time using the new software, called ActivTrak, after finding that it duplicated learning hours, according to Education Department spokeswoman Brittany Halpin.