Look for ECOT secrecy payments

Much more remains to be learned about the fiasco that was the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow in Ohio. Among issues that need to be investigated thoroughly is whether ECOT officials relied on taxpayers for hush money meant to quash reports of scandal.

ECOT, founded in 2000 as an online charter school, raked in more than $1 billion in state payments before it shut down in January. That came after state officials demanded the company repay about $80 million.

State officials say that money was paid based on enrollment ECOT claimed but did not have. Indeed, the school got away with claiming enrollment it could not substantiate for years.

One reason for that may have been use of some of the state funds to keep ECOT employees from blowing the whistle. They were required to sign non-disclosure agreements that went as far as demanding they not make comments “disparaging or negative toward” ECOT.

Two watchdog organizations, Common Cause and Innovation Ohio, are looking into that matter. If state government investigators are not probing it, too, they should become involved.

If criminal behavior and use of taxpayers’ money to keep secrets was part of the ECOT formula, prosecutors should file charges against those responsible.