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ECOT Critics Denounce School's Release Agreements With Former Employees

Andy Chow
Steve Dyer, Innovation Ohio, accuses ECOT of using severance agreements with former employees as non-disclosure agreements.

Longtime critics of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the now-closed but still controversial online charter school, say that more employees would come forward with accusations of student data manipulation had they not signed contracts with non-disclosure agreements attached. 

Steve Dyer with the liberal think tank Innovation Ohio says these so-called non-disclosure agreements signed by ECOT employees cover up any possible data fraud with public money.

“If taxpayer dollars are being misspent or ill-gotten, we should find out about that immediately or as quickly as possible. Non-disclosure agreements for the public sector seems to really fly in the face of that principle,” says Dyer.

Dyer’s complaint comes in the wake of a former employee anonymously accusing ECOT of falsely inflating student participation data.

A spokesperson says Auditor Dave Yost does not believe a court would find this so-called non-disclosure agreement enforceable because it goes against public policy.

The Ohio School Boards Association agreed with Yost's assessment, adding that there is already case law that shows non-disclosure agreements with public employees would not hold up in court or shield an entity from releasing public records.

The person who lodged a complaint with the auditor's office about ECOT included his Severance and Release Agreement. The auditor's spokesperson says their review on ECOT, which considered this former employee's accusations, will come out later this month. The review was originally scheduled to come out May 1.

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