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Taylor Calls for Ethics Probe of Two Cleveland-Area Charter Schools
More than $130,000 misspent, owed back by school officials
Cuyahoga County -
Auditor of State Mary Taylor today released audits of the Phoenix Village Academy Secondary-1 for fiscal year 2007 and the Phoenix Village Academy Primary-2 for fiscal years 2007 and 2008. Taylor is asking the Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate a complex system of payments made to and from several different people affiliated with the school who are personally related.
Taylor’s reports also identify a total of $131,436.70 in public tax dollars that were misspent or undocumented at the two schools and are owed back. The two charter schools are based in Cleveland and share the same board and sponsor.
“When dealing with public tax dollars, governments and schools have a responsibility to properly track how each and every penny is spent,” Taylor said. “The failure to do so could result in misspending, or even worse, fraud and theft.”
Taylor is calling for an investigation into potentially unethical payments made and approved by certain family members associated with the school. For example, a member of the school board approved several payments to the school’s sponsor, ASHE Cultural Center, Inc, where her husband is the chief executive officer. Several additional examples are outlined in Taylor’s reports.
Several school officials are also required to pay back a combined total of $131,436.70. The misspending is a result of thousands of dollars in undocumented purchases and duplicate payments to the school’s sponsor and management company.
The audits were delayed due to the inability of both schools to provide timely financial documents and other reports. As a result, Taylor declared them “unauditable” for fiscal year 2007 on November 18, 2008. An unauditable declaration means that records necessary to conduct a routine financial audit were missing, incomplete or inaccurate.
Today’s audit release officially removes the two schools 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.
Copies of the complete audits are available online at www.auditor.state.oh.us.
The Ohio Auditor of State’s office is a leader in the accounting and auditing field, earning prestigious national honors from the Government Finance Officers Association, the National White Collar Crime Center and the National State Auditor’s Association.
Deputy Press Secretary