School management, state control questioned at Richard Allen


But the schools website and Ohio Department of Education documents confirm that she is the superintendent, and it was Thomas who answered questions about the schools after a reporter visited the office of the Talbott Tower for the schools management company.

Asked about the contradiction, Attorney General spokesman Dominic Binkley said he should recheck information provided by the AG’s education division that Thomas no longer ran schools.

Ohio Senate Education Committee chair Peggy Lehner, who has led charter school reform efforts in recent years, said state officials would investigate.

“I find this information extremely disturbing, and I, as well as a number of other entities within the state, will continue to examine the matter,” Lehner said.

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Thomas declined an interview request, sending short emails instead.

“Richard Allen Schools has nothing to do with IMR,” Thomas wrote, adding, “Schools are working hard to honor its leases and secure property out of bankruptcy. Audits are continuing and I understand that ‘they should be published soon. “

Until the summer of 2017, the three Richard Allen schools in Dayton and one in Hamilton were run by The Institute of Management and Resources, a company founded by Thomas and his mother, Richard Allen Schools founder Jeanette Harris.

Earlier this decade, the state auditor’s office ruled that the IMR mis-spent $ 2.2 million of public money to manage Richard Allen. The company denied doing any wrongdoing and appealed to court, but lost in 2015.

Persistent problems

IMR filed for bankruptcy in March 2018. The Daily News reviewed hundreds of pages of court records, state audits, and school records, finding several lingering issues:

** The state attorney general’s office sued IMR, Harris, Thomas and others in late 2017, seeking to turn those $ 2.2 million in audit findings into recoverable court judgments. The case was put on hold when IMR filed for bankruptcy months later.

“(In addition to IMR), we also sued Jeannette Harris, her daughter Michelle Thomas and the former school treasurer (Felix O’Aku),” Binkley said. “We seek to hold these individuals strictly responsible for the improper payments that resulted in the clawback findings.”

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** IMR’s March 2018 bankruptcy filing indicates that at the time the company was leasing four cars that were paid for by IMR officials – a 2015 Maserati Ghibli that Thomas is listed as a roommate, a 2016 Mercedes C300 with Deputy Superintendent Aleta Benson listed as “Guarantor”, and both a 2016 Jaguar XJL and 2016 Mercedes GL 450 SUV with Harris listed as “Guarantor”.

** The state auditor’s office, which publishes annual financial audits of every charter school in Ohio, did not release audits of any of the four Richard Allen schools for 2015-16, 2016-17 or 2017-18. There had been a financial audit of each Richard Allen school for each year up to 2014-15. The auditor’s office would not say if there is an ongoing investigation.

“We realize that there is a significant public interest in many audits and investigations conducted by our office, but our policy is not to discuss any details of our work until it is completed and released by this office. “said auditor’s office spokesperson Allison Dumski. .

** When IMR filed for bankruptcy, its address was 118 W. First St. The new management company that Richard Allen’s board of directors hired in the fall of 2017 to operate the schools, Educational Management and Development Group (EMDG) , is also run by Thomas, of the same address 118 W. First St ..

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“You can’t change your hat and name to comply with the law, and it looks like it could have happened here,” Lehner said.

Thomas had been a director and leader of the IMR, according to her own legal documents, and previous state audits have criticized the “comfortable” relationship and lax oversight between the school and its management company.


EMDG was founded in April 2017, just months before Richard Allen separated from IMR. The governing documents held by the Secretary of State’s office do not mention any officer of the company. According to Ohio Department of Education records, EMDG does not operate any schools in Ohio other than Richard Allen.

Ohio law states that “no one should … operate the community school (if) the person owes the state money or is in a dispute over whether the person owes the state money. concerning the operation of a community school that has closed. The law also states that “Each sponsor of a community school must verify annually that a collection notice has not been issued (against) the operator or any employee of each community school. “

The conclusions of the recovery in Richard Allen’s story were against IMR, but Thomas was a founder and director of IMR.

On Thursday evening, officials from the Ohio Department of Education did not respond to questions about the operations of Richard Allen schools asked by this news organization on Monday evening.

School websites, grades, money

The first Richard Allen Academy charter school in Dayton opened in 1999. In recent years Richard Allen has technically operated four schools, although they are located at only three sites – Richard Allen I, II and Prep at 184 Salem Ave. and 627 Salem Ave. in Dayton, plus Richard Allen III at 1206 Shuler Ave. in Hamilton.

Schools once had 964 students but now have 525, according to state data.

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The buildings in which the Richard Allen Schools operate still belong to IMR. A Montgomery County judge approved foreclosure of the Richard Allen School building at 184 Salem Avenue in late 2017, but the sheriff’s planned sale of the property was halted in March 2018, when IMR filed his record. It is not known what will happen to school buildings once the bankruptcy case is resolved.

Last year, the ODE School Sponsorship Office terminated its sponsorship contracts with the four Richard Allen schools. The state initially cited student performance, tax management and other good reasons, but after an appeal said the dismissal was solely for “another good cause.”

For this school year, Richard Allen Schools signed up with a new sponsor, St. Aloysius Orphanage, and continued to operate all three sites. But for state identification purposes, these are technically just two schools – Richard Allen Prep in Dayton and Richard Allen Academy in Hamilton.

All of the Dayton schools that received report card achievement scores in the past three years earned F. over the past two years. Richard Allen Academy received B’s in student progress over the past two years, while Richard Allen II received F’s.

2013 STORY: Thomas and Richard Allen hit back at state audit findings

“The Richard Allen Schools have been around for 20 years and… they have trained hundreds of urban students who have gone to colleges and universities across the country and made a significant impact in our community,” Thomas said in an e- mail Thursday.

The five-year financial forecast filed with the state showed that the four Richard Allen schools were finishing both the 2015-16 school year and the 2016-17 school year with a total of $ 4,000 in the bank, despite an annual budget. combined nearly $ 6 million.

The Ohio Department of Education determined that the five-year forecast filed for Richard Allen II and III in May 2018 was “insufficient.” The ODE asked the school to revise the forecast within 15 days, saying it would release the “corrected forecast”, but that did not happen. Since then, as part of Richard Allen’s restructuring for this school year, Schools II and III no longer exist.

Bankruptcy case

IMR’s pending Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, filed on March 21, 2018, listed the group with $ 1.54 million in assets, of which $ 1.4 million was school real estate. The remainder included $ 27,000 in furniture and kitchen equipment, a truck of $ 12,588 and $ 88,000 in accounts receivable.

For the question “does the debtor (IMR) own or lease vehicles?” IMR said he owned a truck and indicated the rental of the four luxury cars. In each case there was a statement that “The debtor has not made any payment on this lease. All payments made by… ”then the name Thomas, Harris or Benson.

IMR has listed $ 2.21 million in liabilities, including $ 1.05 million in mortgages. The remainder includes dozens of creditors ranging from $ 53,449 in legal fees owed to Dinsmore and Shohl, $ 80,969 remaining on a judgment owed to the Houghton Mifflin textbook company, and $ 325,341 owed to the internet and the phone company. Level 3 Communications. The company did not record the $ 2.2 million in state findings as a liability.

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The $ 2.2 million in findings were taken because years of annual contracts required Richard Allen to pay IMR about 88% of his income for school expenses and management fees, but IMR actually got about 97. %, according to state audit documents. Officials from the school and IMR later called it a wording error in the contract.

Denis Blasius, the lawyer representing IMR in the bankruptcy case, did not respond to requests for comment on the cars or the likely layout of school buildings. Dave Cash, superintendent of St. Aloysius Orphanage, who is in his first year of sponsoring Richard Allen Schools, did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment.

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