Centerville overpaid superintendent by $12,800

Centerville City Schools violated state law on severance payouts last year, overpaying Superintendent Tom Henderson by roughly $12,800 for unused vacation days when he filed for retirement and was rehired.

Henderson and school board president Brad Evers said the overpayment was unintentional.

“It’s obvious that a mistake was made,” Henderson said Wednesday. “There are some options available (on how) to make repayment to the district, and that will be done in total.”

>>> RELATED: View Henderson’s contract here

Ohio law says that upon retirement from a school district, a superintendent may be paid for unused vacation leave, “not to exceed the amount accrued within three years before the date of separation.”

Henderson’s contract calls for 25 vacation days per year, meaning his maximum legal payout would be 75 days. Evers, citing information from the district treasurer’s office, said Henderson was paid for 94.4928 unused days on Jan. 9, 2015. The extra 19-plus days created an overpayment of about $12,800.

“The board focuses on the retire/rehire decision — the overall look at, are we going to allow this individual to do this,” Evers said. “We know that the retirees are going to receive payment for unused sick and vacation time. All public employees get that in Ohio. We don’t focus on how many days that is. That we leave to the treasurer.”

Centerville Schools Treasurer Mitch Biederman used the same word as Henderson, calling the excess payout a mistake. He said his office has a payroll system and separate spreadsheet to help monitor cases, adding that, “it should be as simple as that.”

Biederman said his office will take “extra care” on future vacation payouts.

The 2014-15 state audit for Centerville City Schools made no mention of the issue, with no findings for recovery or issues of noncompliance. Ohio Auditor’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Bartunek said the issue may not have been reviewed.

“With auditing, we do sampling,” she said. “Sometimes we will look at payouts in general … but not necessarily every time we audit.”

A preliminary review of other area superintendent contracts show at least five that call for payout of all unused vacation days whenever the person retires, with no mention of the three-year limit. Bartunek said the auditor’s office can alter audit procedures if it finds a risk of other violations.

Evers said Centerville was unaware of Ohio Revised Code 3319.01, which limits payouts. He said the district will review past payouts to make sure there were no other violations. But he said there will be no reprimand.

“Tom is an outstanding superintendent and his integrity is unquestioned,” Evers said. “This was completely inadvertent. He’s going to pay it back and we’re not going to hold it against him.”

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