Taylor Releases Phoenix Village Academy Audit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summit County -

Auditor of State Mary Taylor released the audit of the Phoenix Village Academy – (Primary 1). The audit reveals certain questionable financial transactions that are being referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission for further review as well as several instances of poor record keeping.

The audit was delayed due to the school’s inability to provide timely financial documents and other reports. As a result, Taylor declared the academy “unauditable” for fiscal year 2007 on April 23, 2008. An unauditable declaration means that records necessary to conduct a routine financial audit are missing, incomplete or inaccurate.

“School officials must maintain proper records of their financial activity in accordance with state law and established record retention schedules,” Taylor said. “The failure to do so increases the potential of misspending or theft of public funds.”

Several questionable financial transactions were identified during the course of the audit. Taylor is referring them to the Ohio Ethics Commission for further review. The questionable transactions include:

• Payments totaling $6,586 that board trustee Dionne Whitaker made to the academy’s sponsor, where her father is the CEO
• Payments totaling $7,286 that board trustee Dionne Whitaker wrote to herself
• Payments totaling $1,400 made to Exceptional Psychological Services which is owned by board trustee Dr. Jorethia L. Chuck
• Payments totaling  $2,867 the academy’s former treasurer, Marsha Pettus, wrote to Undiscovered Star, which is owned by her husband

Additional referrals were made to the Internal Revenue Service for failing to provide reportable tax compensation documents and to the State Employees Retirement System for failing to submit complete payments of money withheld from school employees’ paychecks.

This is the initial audit of the academy since it opened in 2006. Today’s release officially removes the school from the Auditor of State’s unauditable list. However, school officials must improve accountability and oversight of financial reporting in order to avoid similar issues from occurring in the future.

A copy of the complete audit is available online at www.auditor.state.oh.us.


The Ohio Auditor of State’s office is one of the largest accounting offices in the nation.  The office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364). Since taking office, Taylor has identified more than $20.4 million in public funds that were handled improperly, spent illegally or stolen and must be repaid.