LORAIN — The Arts Academy’s last report card was the kind children would hide from their parents.
The failed charter school received failing grades from the Ohio Auditor’s Office in an audit released Thursday.
The school, which closed in June amid allegations of bounced teacher paychecks, as well as financial conflicts of interest and unethical behavior by founder Alexis Rainbow, stuck state taxpayers with a bill of nearly $75,000, according to the audit. The school had assets of $170,484 and liabilities of $245,083.
Carrie Bartunek, an auditor’s office spokeswoman, said she was unaware of any of the money being paid back. The audit was forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office and Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office, which is standard procedure for all audits by the Auditor’s Office.
When called for comment Thursday night, Rainbow hung up.
A prior audit in 2010 concluded that Rainbow violated Ohio ethics laws by making $44,688 in payments for school services to businesses she owns.
The academy opened in 2004 and had about 237 students from kindergarten to ninth grades in its final year, according to the audit. School officials previously were found to have failed to post notices of public meetings or record meeting minutes, which are violations of Ohio Sunshine Laws.
The audit said academy officials failed to provide required records that would determine if they followed accepted accounting principles. However, the audit found “deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider material weaknesses,” State Auditor Dave Yost wrote in an April 23 letter to academy Treasurer Carl Shye.
That failure to provide records led the Ohio Department of Education to temporarily cut money to the school in April 2011 before a court order allowed the school to finish the rest of the school year.
Charter schools, also called community schools in Ohio, receive public money but are privately run.
At the end of the 2010-11 school year, there were 341 charter schools in Ohio with 17 closing between 2009 and last year, according to the department. Three more are scheduled to close next month.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.