Police raid home of charter school superintendent

IPads, a grill and computer are among the items removed.

State investigators served a search warrant Wednesday as part of an investigation into allegations of theft in office that involves the superintendent of the Watkins Academy charter school.

Dayton police and agents from the Ohio Auditor of State’s office raided Bobbie Tyree’s Dayton home Wednesday afternoon and removed receipts, a grill and propane tank, vacuum, iPads and a computer from the house and vehicle in the driveway.

The search warrant affidavit, obtained by the I-Team, says it was served to investigate suspected theft in office for more than $11,000 in improper expenditures, though no criminal charges were brought by press time Wednesday.

Tyree could not be reached for comment. Office workers at Watkins Academy at 4401 Dayton-Liberty Road would not provide comment.

The affidavit says the investigation follows a state audit of the school that identified suspicious debit expenditures including $2,200 in money orders, $349 in gift cards, $769 in gas — the school does not have any vehicles — and more than $3,400 in large items such as a desk, vacuum and grill.

Auditor’s office staff asked Tyree about the items in September and she said “they must have been thrown away or left at the previous location,” according to the search warrant filing.

Investigators drove to Tyree’s home, however, and photographed a grill matching the description on her back porch.

Investigators also questioned rentals of bounce houses — one the affidavit suggests may have been used for her 35th birthday Hawaiian Luau party — and trips Tyree took without board approval. She said she was visiting charter schools in other states, some of which report no record of her visiting, according to the affidavit.

The only open court action against Tyree in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Wednesday was a January 2016 garnishment order against her filed by MidUSA Credit Union.

State records list the school’s treasurer as Brian Adams of Worthington-based Ohio Community School Consultants, Ltd. He did not return a call for comment.

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The only released state audit from the school, from June 2015, included an order that Tyree repay the school $541 for debit card transactions by Tyree at places such as Family Dollar, McDonald’s and Shell gas stations. State records say she repaid the money in January 2016.

The audit also cited the school for poor controls over purchasing procedures, including $10,848 without supporting documentation.

An attorney for the school, Columbus-based Edmund Brown, told this newspaper in 2015 that the school had documentation for the purchases.

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“We believe the supporting documents exist for those findings,” he said. “We are in the process of identifying that and providing that to the (state).”

Brown could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The school is directly sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education, which said it required additional training for the governing board in response to the audit.

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ODE officials did not provide comment Wednesday.

Watkins is a K-8 charter school that opened in 2012 and has steadily grown, according to Ohio Department of Education records. It received $1.7 million in state funding from 2013 through 2016.

The school currently has 106 students, according to state records, and is budgeted to receive $821,182 this year.

But a required five-year forecast filed by the school shows its finances are tenuous. The school ended the last school year with only $6,000 in the bank and $947,608 in annual expenses.

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