CLEVELAND -- The Ohio Department of Education is taking over seven local charter schools after yanking their sponsor, which was supposed to oversee the school but has been accused by the state auditor of mismanaging funds.
The decision to revoke the sponsorship of Ashe Culture Center is unprecedented, said Department of Education spokesman Patrick Gallaway.
The state will step in as sponsors of the schools until a new sponsor is found to oversee them. If a new sponsor cannot be found by June 2013, the schools may have to be shuttered, Gallaway said.
A call to Ashe CEO David Whitaker was not returned.
While all but one of the schools scored a D or an F on the state's most recent report card, the decision came down to money. A hearing officer found Ashe Culture Center did not have enough money on hand to meet the required minimum to be a sponsor of a charter school.
The hearing officer's report said Ashe's property assets have "been abandoned, condemned by the city ... and subject to eight years of unpaid real estate taxes."
In making the decision, the state did not take into account the fact that the state auditor says Ashe must repay at least $113,000 in misspent money.
Nor does it include thousands of dollars of missing inventory uncovered in Channel 3's investigation, including a $40,000 satellite dish purchased with state funds for the school that was shipped to an African village where Whitaker is a tribal chief.
The satellite dish was intended to establish a video link between the village and students at Ashe-sponsored schools, but it was never used.