Last week, I was preparing for an upcoming adventurous Alaskan vacation that included thoughts of my wife and me, peacefully floating by dangerous summer artic icebergs, when those mental images were suddenly dashed as I opened up my local newspaper. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported dubious spending activities by the superintendent of the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy (CCPA) and the contracted treasurer who was approving them.
Both the school director and the treasurer face twenty six counts of theft in office, unauthorized use of property, tampering with evidence and tampering with records. The amount in question exceeds $350,000, and focuses on credit card transactions over the course of a few years that covered lavish trips to Europe, Las Vegas, day spas, an Oprah show in Boston, and so on, under the guise of legitimate business expenses.
The Enquirer also made reference to three other charter school treasurers who were found by State Auditor Dave Yost, to be responsible for more than $1 million in questionable, and possibly illegal, spending of public dollars. All three were involved in the finances of some of Ohio’s most troubled charter schools.
As Fordham’s charter school finance expert on the ground in Ohio for our authorizing operation, the chilling effect of these activities will be remembered, as the thoughts of “why” and “how” immediately followed. What should have been in place that, at a minimum, could have averted such avarice from happening?
As with all organizations, including charter schools, the first place to always look...