Auditor Issues Over 16k in Findings for Recovery against Local School Officials
Columbus – An audit released today by Auditor of State Keith Faber on Stow-Munroe Falls City School District (Summit County) exposes several instances of school officials misspending school district funds.
The audit finds that Thomas Bratten, school superintendent, authorized illegal expenditures and misspent taxpayer dollars on expenditures that lacked proper public purpose.
“Anytime school officials steal tax dollars meant for Ohio’s students, my office will work tirelessly to hold them accountable for their wrong doing,” Auditor Faber remarked.
State auditors reviewed school payroll records and found that Franca Padula, the administrative assistant to the superintendent, received payment for one hour of unworked overtime for each day she worked from May 6, 2017 through Nov. 24, 2018. Auditors found she was not actually working those hours, thus they were illegal expenditures. Accordingly, Auditor Faber has issued a finding for recovery against Padula for $14,111 in favor of the school district.
Under Ohio law, any public official who authorizes an illegal expenditure is strictly liable for the expenditure. Several school officials responsible for authorizing the overtime payed back a total of $1,768 of the finding under audit. Bratten, who also authorized the overtime, is jointly and severely liable with Padula for the $12,343 that remains unpaid.
The audit report also exposes that Bratten used $981 of public funds to pay for gifts that went mostly to board members and administrative staff. Additionally, he spent $1,309 of public funds on personal travel expenses. The Auditor’s office has issued additional findings for recovery against Bratten for the sum of the two expenses totaling $2,290.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.