Charter school leaders misspend $1.4M

Two treasurers listed on a state audit released Tuesday of a now-closed local charter school are responsible for a combined $1.4 million in allegedly mishandled public funds, according to a Springfield News-Sun analysis.

Carl Shye and Edward Dudley were both named in an audit released Tuesday of the Carter G. Woodson Institute, which closed in July 2010.

Dudley, of Gahanna, is listed in state records as liable for mishandled public funds for audits of the Urban Youth Academy in Springfield and charters in northeast Ohio. The audits released Tuesday add to nine previous audits to include findings against Dudley.

The Ohio Department of Education was unable Tuesday to provide information on whether Dudley is still treasurer of any Ohio schools. Their records show that his treasurer’s license is active.

Urban Youth Academy closed abruptly in May 2008 after site visits from the charter’s sponsor provoked concerns over student safety, enrollment and educational programs. An audit after the school closed revealed that poor record keeping and missing records resulted in more than $241,000 in undocumented expenditures.

The audit of Woodson Institute singled out $168,772 in allegedly mishandled public funds in that school’s waning months. The school, which went by the name Arise Sports Management Academy until December 2009, switched treasurers from Shye to Dudley in August 2009.

“Looks like we went from one lousy treasurer to another,” Auditor of State Dave Yost said in a statement Tuesday. “And it’s the taxpayers who suffer.”

Tuesday’s audit questions more than $10,000 paid to Dudley’s consulting firm by him as treasurer without documentation — which auditors referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission for potential conflict of interest — and another $13,400 it says Dudley was overpaid.

The audit says more than $16,000 was paid to Shye for unclear purposes.

As treasurers, the two are liable for other allegedly improper expenditures. This includes $79,892 that auditors say were overpaid to staff — including $3,500 bonus checks issued two weeks before the school shut its doors — and $31,383 in undocumented withdrawals by school CEO Shane Floyd as well as improper payments to board members. Auditors found the records generally lacking, making a full accounting of school finances impossible.

Floyd, now a pastor in Cleveland, said he has no knowledge of the accusations against the treasurers or overpayments to staff, but that the withdrawals he was named in were needed payments to vendors.