Story originally published in The Hannah Report on February 24, 2016.
Inspector General Randall Meyer’s office is reportedly looking into matters related to a digital learning clearinghouse overseen by Ohio State University and the Board of Regents, according to a new report on the clearinghouse by ProgressOhio. Meyer’s office would not confirm its interest in the topic.
“We do not confirm or deny investigations or whether complaints have been received,” Deputy Inspector General Carl Enslen told Hannah News Wednesday.
However, Sandy Theis, executive director of ProgressOhio, said at a news conference Wednesday that in researching the report she spoke with OSU employees who told her they’d been interviewed by Meyer’s office. The report includes a reply to Theis’ inquiries from OSU spokesman Chris Davey, who wrote the university is aware of the investigation and is “cooperating fully.” Davey later confirmed that statement directly to Hannah News.
The report focuses on the involvement of IQ Innovations in iLearnOhio, and complaints from state officials that the platform didn’t live up to expectations. It notes then-Chancellor Jim Petro’s selection of IQ as the vendor, following cancellation under the prior administration of an agreement with previous winning bidder Blackboard, which had been unable to deliver on its agreement, according to a letter Petro wrote.
The report also references results from an OSU compliance office report from 2014 alleging retaliation by Board of Regents (BOR) staff when OSU employees complained about IQ’s performance.
Theis said Wednesday that IQ’s selection and involvement were indicative of political favoritism, noting IQ is affiliated with William Lager, founder of online charter school Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and a substantial donor to Gov. John Kasich and other Ohio Republican officials.
Neil Clark, spokesman for ECOT and IQ, said Theis’ report simply rehashes information she released previously last year after the OSU compliance report came out. As to reports of an investigation by Meyer, Clark said they have no knowledge of it, and couldn’t comment on it if there were an investigation. He also pointed out ProgressOhio is funded by education unions.
According to the BOR, IQ’s contract expired in 2013, and the agency now views the project as a “legacy program,” saying better alternatives are now available.
“We do not believe that the Ohio Distance Learning Clearinghouse lived up to its expectations, and because of that, it has not been a priority. A one-time, $6 million eTextbook grant established by the Ohio Legislature in 2013 substantially enhanced the amount of available content and likely generated an increase in use. But given the advancement in technology, there are now other ways for schools to get the content they need for e-learning,” Regents spokesman Jeff Robinson said in an email.
The ProgressOhio report is available at https://progressohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ProgressOhio-Report-on-IQ-February-2016.pdf?akid=931.161555.EJ-6oe&rd=1&t=1.