Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is ordering the operator of a former charter school to pay back $1.4 million it over-billed the state, with interest.
Hassina Shabazz and her late husband Da’ud Abdul Malik Shabazz ran two charters, The International Preparatory Schools (TIPS) for six years before abruptly shutting them down.
A state audit found the Shabazz’ inflated enrollment figures at their schools, cashing in on funding for hundreds of students that didn’t exist.
The Ohio Department of Education has been trying to get those funds back for years. An Ohio Supreme Court decision a year ago helped move that process forward by concluding that charter school operators are public officials who are responsible for misused or lost public dollars...
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that officers or representatives of charter schools are public officials who can be held liable for public funds that the schools lose or improperly spend.
The 6-0 ruling yesterday involved the International Preparatory School in Cleveland, which closed in 2005.
A subsequent state audit showed that the school had improperly collected $1.4million in state funds by inflating enrollment numbers. The state sued its treasurer in an attempt to retrieve the money.
Charter schools, or community schools, are generally operated by nonprofit groups or for-profit management companies. They are publicly funded.
The ruling overturns an appeals court decision that said the treasurer was a corporate officer of the school and shielded from personal liability. It sends the matter back to Cuyahoga County court.
(CN) - The treasurer of a community school that received $1.4 million in excessive state funding can be held liable over the public money as a public official, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.
After the International Preparatory School shut down in 2005, an audit revealed that it used inflated enrollment figures to obtain $1.4 million in extra funding from the Department of Education.
The state successfully sued treasurer Hasina Shabazz for misuse of public funds, but an appeals court overturned the decision, ruling that Shabazz was not a public official.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer disagreed with the lower court's finding, writing that Shabazz was a public official who could be personally liable for the extra funding.
"Public officials are personally liable for public funds," the ruling states. "Any liability that arises therefrom is not a corporate debt - it is the official's own debt."
Pfeifer added, however, that the trial court must determine whether Shabazz was in charge of actually receiving, or supervising the receipt of, public money.