Legislators refer e-school attendance-tampering allegations to education department auditor

State lawmakers said Monday they have referred allegations to authorities that an online charter school failed to dis-enroll hundreds of chronically truant students in order to pad its rolls.

Ohio Virtual Academy, which serves about 13,000 students statewide, said it follows all state reporting laws and enrollment guidelines.

Reps. Bill Hayes and Teresa Fedor, the House Education Committee's top Republican and Democrat, told The Associated Press they have forwarded an anonymous whistleblower's email to state Auditor Dave Yost, whose office has made school attendance fraud a priority.

A school's enrollment dictates the size of its monthly payments from the state.

"My question is how long has it been going on. For years? I don't know," Fedor said. "This is a serious gap and it's a serious issue if these e-schools are getting money that they shouldn't get."

Hayes also involved the Ohio Department of Education and alerted the school, whose authorizer said it is conducting its own review.

The whistleblower provided a list of more than 400 specific students listed as truant, some for most of the school year. The email comes amid highly charged debate at the Ohio Statehouse over charter school regulations viewed as among the weakest in the country. Recent legislation has tightened up the law and a pending bill with bipartisan sponsorship has a hearing this week.

(Readm ore at Tribtown.com)