Brown working to redistribute ECOT money to Ohio schools

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS (WDTN) – School districts in Ohio could see some federal dollars coming their way if a new bill U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is introducing becomes law.

Brown says he has been working on the bill since 2014. It would take any federal money recovered from ECOT and redistribute it to schools where those students came from.

According to Brown, for-profit charter school ECOT siphoned millions of federal tax dollars away from Ohio’s public schools and failed to educate their students.

“If you defraud the government, if you steal from taxpayers, especially if you inflict pain on students like this, then you pay. You don’t just suffer criminal penalties, you pay it back,” he said.

Brown says ECOT received some $130 million from the federal government since 2000 and he wants it back.

“If we recover anything close to that amount it will mean a number of, two or three or five or ten new teachers in school districts where that will really matter.”

And Brown says the bill can apply to any other situations like this in the country.

“If the Department of Education finds ways of recovering this money, then it should go to the schools instead of the general fund, I don’t know how anybody is against that in principle,” he says.

According to Brown, he is trying to get the legislation attached to an end of the year omnibus bill, but if that doesn’t work he is hopeful Congress could take it up early next year.

In the meantime, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a civil lawsuit against the school’s founder Bill Lager in an attempt to recover state dollars.

Brown describes what has happened with ECOT here in Ohio as an example of corruption in state government but did not go so far as to call any one person or party out.

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