TIFFIN, OH — State Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) is still refusing to comment on the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he received from the founder of ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow), the scandal-ridden online charter school that shut down months ago.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s published finance reports, Reineke received $12,155.52 from Lager in October 2014.
As an online charter school, ECOT received taxpayer money based on the amount of time students spent learning. The charter school submitted that data to the state, which then doled out the appropriate amount of money.
But an audit of the 2015-2016 school year found ECOT was getting money for 9,000 students without proof that those students existed or were learning anything. The state wanted its $60.4 million in taxpayer money back.
Many Republican politicians around the state who have received contributions from ECOT, especially those who are running for election in 2018, have vowed to donate their campaign contributions from ECOT elsewhere. Reineke is not yet apart of that group.
Tiffin City Schools alone lost approximately $1,132,869 in funding to the ECOT scandal over a six year period, according to a report from Innovation Ohio, a non-profit think tank.
Another audit of the 2016-2017 school year found ECOT over-estimated students again, taking about $19 million in taxpayer money without proper documentation.
In May of 2018, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost released a damning report alleging ECOT leaders broke the law by intentionally inflating the amount of time students spent learning.
Reineke’s Democratic challenger, Rachel Crooks (D-Tiffin), has commented previously about her opponent’s refusal to donate his ECOT funds elsewhere:
“For-profit charter schools like ECOT have been allowed to operate with no accountability for far too long, and they doled out millions in campaign checks — including $12,155.52 to Bill Reineke,” Rachel Crooks said.
You can see how much your local school district lost to ECOT over a six-year period here.