Closed Charter School Improperly Spent $84,000
Columbus – Officials of the Notten School for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) (Franklin County) improperly spent state funds after the school closed, according to an audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) funds eligible community schools through “Foundation” settlements issued in July, August and September. Funding is based on estimated student enrollment for the upcoming year and is contingent upon the school opening for at least one day of instruction.
Notten STEM closed on September 8, 2011, but received settlements in July and August 2011 totaling $84,274. School officials did not return the funds to ODE upon closure, but instead used them to liquidate the school’s July and August 2011 operating expenditures. Findings for recovery were issued against former Treasurer Carl Shye, Director of Operations Laverne Pryor and Treasurer Edward Dudley.
In 2011, Pryor was given a $911 expense reimbursement; however no documentation was presented to verify the expenditure. The school also made a $500 cash withdrawal without supporting documentation. A finding for recovery was issued against Pryor in the amount of $911. Shye served as Treasurer during the time and is held jointly and severally liable for the full amount of $1,411.
Auditors also determined that between September 2010 and January 2012, the school overpaid its sponsor by $3,982. A finding for recovery was issued against and repaid by the sponsor, Kids Count of Dayton.
Auditors also identified 13 instances when students were absent for more than 105 consecutive hours without a legitimate excuse, but not withdrawn as required by law. Attendance records also were missing from multiple grade levels over an eight week period. Additionally, the school employed five teachers without proper teaching credentials.
Several additional matters in the audit have been referred to ODE, the Franklin County Prosecutor, Ohio Ethics Commission, State Teachers Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System, Internal Revenue Service, Ohio Department of Taxation and the City of Columbus.
A full copy of this audit may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 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.