Academy of Dover audit findings sent to attorney general

DOVER — State audit findings alleging “longstanding fiscal management” by the Academy of Dover and $127,866 in personal purchases made by its former principal were forwarded to the Delaware Attorney General’s office upon completion late last month, officials said this week.

On Thursday, state Auditor R. Thomas Wagner said his office immediately contacted the attorney general’s office and presented the review publicly released June 23, as is standard procedure in similar cases.

“Generally speaking, in audits of this nature we present the facts and they make the determination regarding any possible criminal activity,” Mr. Wagner said.

The audit found that former Academy of Dover Principal Noel Rodriguez allegedly made more than $127,000 in personal purchases in addition to $129,458 in purchases that could not be confirmed as either personal or for school use in a review covering July 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2014.

Noel Rodriguez

Noel Rodriguez

Also, the Auditor’s office alleged, “Given the magnitude of the problem at (Academy of Dover), there may well have been additional exceptions prior to July 2011.”

The attorney general’s office confirmed receipt of the report and said an investigation is being conducted by the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust.

Auditor Wagner said his office is available to assist the Academy of Dover moving forward, along with the AG’s office in its examination of findings.

The audit reported that Mr. Rodriguez left the school in September 2014 at the Board of Directors request. On Thursday, his LinkedIn account indicated he was looking for the opportunity of “joining a nonprofit board.”

The Academy of Dover charter school at 104 Saulsbury Road opened in 2003 and educates students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The school had 308 students enrolled during the 2013-14, according to an annual report posted online at aodcharter.org.

The audit alleged that “lax internal conrols at the school and statewide levels” led to the fiscal lapses.

The Academy of Dover receives state and federal aid, along with revenue from local school districts.

The Auditor’s office was concerned by the length of time the alleged financial mismanagement continued while under the oversight of the Board of Directors, Department of Education, independent auditors, Innovative Schools, the Charter School Accountability Committee, and Division of Accounting.

The auditor’s office said it received a tip on its fraud hotline in August 2014, and the Academy of Dover Board of Directors and Delaware Department of Education subsequently made contact “regarding irregularities at the school.”

Following the audit’s release, Academy of Dover Board of Directors President Kimeu Boynton said school leadership had created a budget oversight committee within the year and expenditures would be monitored “with a fine toothed comb.”

In late June, Mr. Boynton said the board had increased training and policies in the past year in a quest for more oversight, and three additional training sessions were scheduled.

Mr. Boynton stressed that the board wants “to make sure the public knows that our finances are in order” and enrollment remained strong while the school continued “trying to do things not just for the students but for the community.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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