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Judge Denies School Districts From Intervening In ECOT Case

The former ECOT headquarters in the South Side of Columbus.
Dan Konik
Ohio Public Radio
The former ECOT headquarters in the South Side of Columbus.

A judge has denied local school districts from intervening in the civil lawsuit against what was the largest online charter school in Ohio, ECOT.

The Franklin County judge rejected the districts’ request to get involved in the case against ECOT, noting that the goals of the schools and the state are closely aligned.

Dayton, Toledo, Springfield, and the other school districts claimed that the attorney general’s office had close ties to ECOT’s founder Bill Lager and that the schools had different arguments to offer in the case.

In October, then-Attorney General Mike DeWine argued against allowing the school districts to intervene. He said they lacked standing, their interest was substantively remote, and they lacked commonality between their claims and the state’s claims.

The education department determined that ECOT was paid more than $80 million for students it couldn’t prove it had.

The lawsuit argues a pattern of corrupt activity between Lager and two companies he owned that contracted with ECOT. It seeks to recover the money from Lager and other former ECOT officials.

An attorney representing the school districts says they’re taking a look at the ruling to figure out their next step. The districts trying to intervene included Toledo Public Schools, Dayton Public Schools, Springfield City Schools, Lake Local Schools, Woodridge Local Schools, Northern Local Schools, Logan-Hocking Schools, and Cuygahoga Falls City Schools.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.