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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Auditor Says State Has Options To Recover Money If ECOT Closes Its Virtual Doors

ECOT founder Bill Lager pauses during a speech to the online school's students, staff and supporters at the Statehouse in May.

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 the state auditor 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. 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. And it’s not at all clear to me that Mr. Lager might not have some personal liability here.”ECOT’s founder Bill Lager gets $22 million a year as a vendor, for providing software and management services to ECOT. Copyright 2017 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.