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County academy financial records ‘unauditable’

Columbus — Incomplete financial records and bank reconciliations prompted Auditor of State Dave Yost to place the Lawrence County Academy on the unauditable list.

“Poor records lead to poor service for taxpayers,” Auditor Yost said.

“Auditable records must be provided to complete the audits and ensure accountability.”

During the course of the regular financial audits of the Lawrence County Academy for the audit periods ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, the Auditor of State’s office determined that the condition of the academy’s financial records was not adequate to complete the audits. In a letter to the academy, the Auditor of State’s office provided a list of records required to complete the audits.

Within 90 days of the date of the letter, the academy must revise its financial records and provide the necessary data. Failure to bring accounts, records, and reports to an auditable condition may result in legal action, including the possibility of the attorney general issuing a subpoena to academy officials to explain the condition of records. The attorney general may also file suit to compel the officials to prepare and/or produce the required information.

According to Ohio law, upon notification of the unauditable status of the Lawrence County Academy, their sponsor, the Lawrence County Educational Service Center, is prohibited from contracting with any additional community schools. Additionally, within 45 days of the date of the unauditable letter, the sponsor must provide a written response to the Auditor of State, which includes:

• An overview of the process the sponsor will use to review and understand the circumstances that led to the school’s unauditable condition;

• A plan for providing the AOS with the documentation necessary to complete an audit of the community school and for ensuring that all financial documents are available in the future; and

• The actions the sponsor will take to ensure the plan described above is implemented.

The Auditor of State’s Local Government Section (LGS) is available to academy officials to assist in bringing records to an auditable condition. LGS provides a wide variety of services to local governments, including reconstructing financial records and aid in the reconciliation of books.

An entity is removed from the “unauditable” list once the audit is completed and released to the public.

The academy was started in the fall of 2013 with the goal of providing an alternative path to high school graduation for students who do not want to pursue a traditional classroom education.

It is a virtual community school of Ohio, designed to give struggling students a chance to earn their high school diplomas through an online-based curriculum. Unlike most VCS Ohio school, however, LCA, does meet in a classroom with a teacher once a week at the Collins Career Center.

The first year the LCA graduated six students.

Dr. James Payne of the county educational service center said he did not have a comment at this time.

“I think they have got the records where they are auditable,” Payne said. “We meet with our board on Friday and will talk to them about it.”