State Has Options To Recover Money If ECOT Closes

Oct 12, 2017

The state’s largest online charter school said in court filings last week that it will close by January if it’s forced to pay back nearly $80 million to the state from two attendance audits. But state auditor Dave Yost says that doesn’t mean the bill would be settled.

The state is already taking $2.5 million from ECOT’s monthly checks to pay back $60 million from one audit. And ECOT could be on the hook for $19 million from a subsequent audit.

State education officials ruled ECOT had to pay back the per-pupil funding because it was unable to prove students spent enough time logged into virtual classrooms to quality for state funding.

ECOT is fighting those rulings, and has cut its budget and laid off 250 workers.

State Auditor Dave Yost says if ECOT closes, the Attorney General’s office might order the sale of the school’s assets and may look at vendors to recover the money.

“If ECOT doesn’t choose to go after their vendors, I think the state might be able to," Yost said. "And it’s not at all clear to me that (ECOT Founder) Mr. (Bill) Lager might not have some personal liability here.”

Lager gets $22 million a year as a vendor, for providing software and management services to ECOT.