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Audit of Closed Charter School Reveals $266,230 in Findings for Recovery
No records of students or teachers and very little documentation to support expenditures has led to a combined total of nearly $2.8 million in findings for recovery, questioned costs and unsubstantiated payments in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 audit reports of The Weems School released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“This is a heck of a mess,” Auditor Yost said. “Closed or not, the leadership of this school must be held responsible, and the money must be returned to the people of Ohio.”
The primary reason for a total of $266,230 issued findings for recovery was due to lack of supporting documentation for expenditures. During the 2007 fiscal year, $76,397 in debit card transactions were made and did not have documentation to state the public purpose for the expenditure. Similar situations during fiscal year 2008 resulted in a $17,183 finding for recovery and a $19,131 finding for recovery in the fiscal year 2009 audit.
In some instances, the school issued checks made payable to “cash,” and did not provide supporting documentation. This led to a $6,000 finding for recovery in the 2007 audit. During FY 2008, Superintendent/Treasurer Ruby Weems signed nine checks totaling $26,516 made payable to “cash,” and was issued a finding for recovery in that amount payable to the Ohio Department of Education.
During fiscal year 2008, the school made two wire transfers and a cash withdrawal totaling $84,967 and could not provide a check number or the name of the payee. Lack of documentation also resulted in a $25,000 finding for recovery against Gilbert Weems in the 2007 audit for a loan reimbursement. There was no evidence of a loan received by the school from Mr. Weems.
A questioned cost in the amount of $265,396 was issued in the FY 2007 audit for federal Title I funds. Lack of documentation did not allow for auditors to determine if the school complied with requirements set by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Based on the inability to perform an audit, all costs for this program were questioned. Another questioned cost of $300,722 was issued due to the inability to ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter School Grant program.
The Weems School did not keep records of student attendance, hours the school was in session, what type of instruction was provided, attendance sheets, documentation of enrollment, withdrawal dates of students, or an official student roster. Ohio’s State Foundation payments are derived from these types of documentation. Therefore, assurance of hours of instruction could not be determined. These unsubstantiated payments of $759,652 in FY 2007, $512,247 in FY 2008 and $635,790 in FY 2009 have been referred to the Ohio Department of Education.
The school did not maintain personnel records of its employees, and it could not be determined if income tax forms were filed, if the proper tax amounts were withheld from all personnel, or if withholdings were properly remitted to the Internal Revenue Service. This issue has been referred to the Internal Revenue Service for further review. In addition, auditors were unable to determine if proper tax amounts were withheld from employees and remitted to the State Tax Commissioner, and this matter was referred to the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Leaders of the Weems School did not provide evidence that the state-mandated community school closing procedures were performed, and the matter has been referred to the Ohio Department of Education.
This charter school was closed on June 18, 2009 by the Ohio Department of Education due to financial viability and other contractual non-compliance. The findings for recovery have been turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office.
Full copies of these audits can be found online at http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.