LIMA — Zack Space, Democratic candidate for Ohio Auditor, visited Lima Thursday afternoon as part of his tour around the region speaking about the misuse of the state’s online charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, and the failure of state politicians in persecuting the company for allegedly intentionally fudging enrollment numbers for larger state payouts.
According to a story by the Associated Press, a whistle blower had called attention to ECOT officials allegedly padding enrollment numbers more than a year ago, which education regulators are currently reviewing.
“They’ve taken a billion dollars away from public education. They produced graduation rates less than 40 percent. The founder of ECOT (Bill Lager) has put much of that money into for-profit private management companies with no oversight. He’s enriched himself, and he’s been one of the largest political contributors to members of the General Assembly in the state of Ohio,” Space said.
After a number of investigations by current Ohio Auditor David Yost and even more financial missteps by the company, including the school’s failure to pay back $60 million in disputed funding to the state, ECOT shut its doors in January forcing almost 12,000 students to find new schools in the middle of the school year.
“The matter should have been referred to a local prosecutor or a criminal investigation so justice can be served,” Space said.
Space joins other Democrats, such as Ohio Attorney General Candidate Steve Dettelbech, asking for similar investigations into ECOT, Yager and Republican politicians in the Ohio General Assembly who have received large contributions from Yager.
“We really have seen an unprecedented level of pay-to-play politics in Columbus these days,” Space said. “We’re here to talk about the need to fix what’s broken in Columbus.”
Space also called for further transparency into other similar private organizations acting in public capacities for the state, such as JobsOhio, the primary economic development organization for Ohio.
“These are taxpayer dollars. Putting them into JobsOhio and not allowing us to see where that money goes. That’s wrong. There’s no transparency there.”
Space has been campaigning throughout Ohio, including stops in Youngstown, Steubenville and Dayton as part of his tour calling attention to the “pervasive culture of corruption on Capital Square.” Space also met with local supporters in the early evening Thursday at The Meeting Place.
Space has reported raising roughly $351,000 in his pre-primary finance report. His Republican contender, Keith Faber, reported raising roughly $206,000.