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Former ESC treasurer responds

Says she got awards for clean audits

Former Lawrence County Educational Service Center Treasurer Teresa Lawless has responded to a news release from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, which was issued last month, regarding $93,000 in funds for the now-closed Lawrence County Academy charter school.

“Prior to being placed on administrative leave with pay by the Lawrence County Educational Service Center (ESC), I actively served as the Treasurer for the ESC,” Lawless said in her written response. “Audits were performed by the Auditor of State and in some of the more recent years and, due to the efforts of my office, the ESC received Ohio Auditor of State Awards from the office of the Auditor, stating: ‘This award is presented for exemplary financial reporting in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) . . . . The citizens you represent are well-served by your effective and accountable financial practices.’

Lawless said she also personally received a letter from Yost’s office.

“Congratulations!” the letter, provided by Lawless, read. “Based on your recently completed financial audit, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Lawrence County Educational Service Center has received the Auditor of State Award. Clean and accurate record keeping are the foundation for good government, and the taxpayers can take pride in your commitment to accountability. The Auditor of State Award is given to those entities that file timely financial reports in accordance with GAAP, as well as receive a ‘clean’ audit report. The “clean” audit report means that your financial audit did not contain any findings for recovery, material citations, material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, Single Audit findings or any questioned costs.”

Lawless went on to discuss the audit of the Lawrence Academy.

“The press release also mentions an audit for the year ended June 30, 2014 for the Lawrence County Academy, which was an entity separate from the ESC,” she said. “The audit indicates, among other things, that the ESC, and not me, received monies from the Lawrence County Academy that it should not have received.”

Lawless said this resulted from a coding error.

“Specifically, Finding No. 2014-005 states: ‘In accordance with the foregoing facts and pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code §117.28, a Finding for Recovery for public monies illegally expended is hereby issued against the Lawrence County Educational Service Center in the amount of $92,906, and in favor of Lawrence County Academy general fund.’” she said. “Nonetheless, the ESC is primarily liable for that money. My attorney has written to the ESC’s attorney requesting that the ESC pay the monies that it received; however, it has refused to do so. “

Lawless said she would make no further comment at this time, as her case is pending.