A regular week at the Weems School was a minefield of surprises for staff and students alike.
For students, that was a blast: The lunch menus were constantly changing, any given day could yield an unannounced field trip, and there was always the possibility you'd show up and find the doors locked and lights out.
For teachers, that wasn't so fun. Bill collectors were clogging up the phone lines, required textbooks weren't on the shelves, paychecks were late, and regular funds from the state got straw-sucked down a gaping black hole. The whole operation, it seemed, was held together by the thinnest strands of authority.
Such was life at the Tremont charter, which was christened in 2005 and ran aground four years later. Behind the wheel was Ruby Weems, the Hummer-driving superintendent with a spotty background in education. Together with her identical twin sister Rory, Weems ran an operation that even her most favorable critics call sloppy. Those who were bilked by the school and left to clean up the mess are less charitable.
The school lasted as long as it did thanks to Weems' stable of rookie teachers, most of them just a year or two free from college. Today, more than a year after the school was shut down, a number of those teachers say they still haven't been fully paid for their work. Two have filed a lawsuit against the school's sponsor, Cincinnati-based Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio (ERCO). The teachers say ERCO should have stepped in before Weems' mess got out of hand…
Not surprisingly, the books were bad from day one. According to a state audit, the Weems school provided few or no financial records to substantiate its expenditures in its first year. The audit lists multiple occasions where Weems cut checks up to $30,000, but failed to properly document where the money went. State auditors threw up their hands, refusing to even provide an official opinion on the books…
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THE WEEMS WAY: A CHARTER SCHOOL COLLAPSES AMID A HAIL OF SIBLING BATTLES AND UNPAID BILLS; December 29, 2010; Cleveland Scene (OH)