It’s not often you get a news release announcing ProgressOhio and Opportunity Ohio have teamed up, but when you do, you know things have gotten pretty bad.

ProgressOhio is the state’s largest progressive advocacy organization and Opportunity Ohio is a free-market research organization.

The two have joined in asking the Auditor of State and Office of Inspector General to investigate revelations that Ohio State University employees said they faced retaliation for questioning the performance of IQ Innovations, a firm under contract with OSU for a distance learning clearing house.

The workers said the retaliation came from a top appointee at the Ohio Board of Regents.

Plunderbund broke the story late last month.

After a limited investigation, OSU’s Office of University Compliance and Integrity found the workers’ complaints of intimidation “credible” and expressed “concern” over IQ’s “level of performance.’’ OSU said it could not complete the probe because it lacked authority to interview Regents employees.

Opportunity Ohio CEO Matt Meyer and ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis issued a news release Wednesday that included a joint statement.

“The credible and serious nature of the complaints, potential for misspent public money and importance of enhanced distance learning to Ohio’s economy demand a thorough investigation of these matters. We have been unable to determine whether Ohio State referred its findings to any agency with authority to investigate the Regents. Since both the Office of Inspector General and Auditor of State have jurisdiction over the vendor’s performance and expenditure of public money, we are making a formal request for them to conduct such an investigation.’’

A copy of the referral letter can be found here.

From Plunderbund’s original story on the matter:

Documents obtained by Plunderbund show that a company owned by one of Ohio’s largest charter school operators is failing to deliver on a major contract with the state.   The documents also indicate that former employees of the company, now supervising the project for the state, likely retaliated against public employees who questioned the company’s failures.  The company’s owner, William Lager, is one of the biggest Republican political donors in Ohio.

According to an investigation report from the Ohio State University’s Office of University Compliance and Integrity (OUCI), “Employees with the Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH)… reported that a project to implement a statewide K-12 learning management system is failing because a key vendor, IQ Innovations (IQ), repeatedly did not meet the requirements of its agreement with OSU.”  The employees “indicated that Board of Regents staff caused them to be removed from parts of the project and other responsibilities because they reported these issues.”

The report finds that “three OSU employees conveyed credible information that they faced significant retaliation after questioning the performance of IQ” in implementing the learning management system, now called ilearnOhio.

IQ Innovations is a software company owned by William Lager.  Lager also owns a company called Altair Learning Management as well as the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), a giant online charter school that has a lower graduation rate than all of Ohio’s largest urban public school districts.  ECOT buys its “online-learning platform” from IQ , and it pays Altair to operate its charter schools.  Lager profits every step of the way.

According to the OSU report, “IQ shares its Chief Information Officer with the Electronic Classroom for Tomorrow (ECOT) and Altair Learning Management.In addition, multiple OSU employees who were interviewed indicated that John Conley, Assistant Deputy Chancellor of Educational Technology at the Ohio Board of Regents is a former employee of IQ.”

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.

 

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