Charter School Accused By Whistleblower of Defrauding State for More Funds

charter-school-fraud-300x214One of Ohio’s largest online charter schools is facing some serious allegations from a former employee. The whistleblower claims, Electronic Classroom for Tomorrow, purposely inflated attendance figures tied to its state funding.

The Investigation

Education regulators are reviewing the allegations. Last year, the former technology employee told the Department of Education 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.” This according to WCPO in Cincinnati.

Basically, the charter school was cited for attendance inflation in 2015. The state demanded new software be put in place to monitor attendance and that the school pay back $60 million in funds. The whistleblower claims that the school then used the software to inflate the attendance again.

The employee is remaining anonymous out of fear of retaliation. He says he first raised concerns in August of 2017. The state then found that the charter school had duplicated learning hours, using the software. The school has since been closed.

Whistleblower Claims

The whistleblower said that before he left the school last July he was “in meetings where officials ordered staff to manipulate student data to reach desired outcomes.” He says they purposefully tweaked models to produce the outcomes they wanted.

No one else has stepped forward to collaborate the claims, but the Education Department had found the school significantly over-reported its number of full-time-equivalent students for 2015. And the school did owe the state $60 million in overpayments.

Another $19 million penalty has been assessed for 2016-2017 school year.

The Reaction

The charter school’s spokesperson, Neil Clark, is dismissing the whistleblower’s allegations.

“I think most of this is made-up, ridiculous attempts to abuse a corpse,” he said. Clark says he no longer works for the school that closed in January.

The school’s attorney, Marion Little, told WCPO he was not aware of the man’s claims.

As of now there is no criminal investigation, but if the allegations are proven true, fraud charges could be brought against administrators of the school.

To learn more about this case or report suspected fraud, contact Jeffrey Newman Law today!