State says former Dayton charter school leaders misspent $31,896

Doors and windows are broken at the long-closed Watkins Academy school at 4401 Dayton-Liberty Road on June 16, 2021. JEREMY P. KELLEY/STAFF
Doors and windows are broken at the long-closed Watkins Academy school at 4401 Dayton-Liberty Road on June 16, 2021. JEREMY P. KELLEY/STAFF

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Long-delayed audit seeks repayment from former superintendent, who faces criminal charge.

Administrators of the former Watkins Academy charter school in southwest Dayton have been accused by state auditors of misspending $31,896.

Auditor of State Keith Faber this week released the 2016, 2017 and partial 2018 financial-year audits for the school, which opened in 2012 and closed its 4401 Dayton-Liberty Road campus in September 2017.

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The state issued findings for recovery of more than $30,000 against the school’s former superintendent, Bobbie Watkins-Tyree, for purchases “that were not supported by an itemized receipt and/or were not for a proper public purpose.”

Auditors said Watkins-Tyree made 204 debit card transactions totaling $28,633 that fell into those categories. They also said the school’s former treasurer, Brian Adams, signed checks to Watkins-Tyree in the amount of $1,427, reimbursing her for certain purchases as well as for per-diem expenses at conferences, despite a lack of supporting documentation.

The audit says because Adams signed off on the reimbursements, he and his bonding company are jointly and severally liable for the $1,427. Adams’ response in the audit was that records to support the payments were given to auditors four years ago. The auditor’s office concluded that was not true.

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Watkins-Tyree, 41, faces a third-degree felony charge of theft in office of more than $7,500 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court in connection with these issues. State investigators searched her home in February 2017. She was indicted in October 2020, and the case is set for trial in September. She could not be reached for comment this week.

There were two other findings for recovery against Adams and his bonding company.

One was for $1,026 paid to Dayton Power and Light in late fees, which are not a “proper public purpose” for spending taxpayer money in Ohio. The other was for $605 in sales tax on 13 payments to vendors, and sales tax is also not a “proper public purpose” for charter schools, as they are exempt from that tax.