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Seeworth Academy
The Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy charter school sign stands outside the school building in Oklahoma City on June 20, 2019. (Archiebald Browne)

The board of directors for Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy charter school approved a motion for an audit on a corporate account during a meeting Wednesday.

It is unknown so far what entity will conduct the audit over the school’s controversial “corporate account.” However, Barbara Swinton, a member of the board, said the account has been audited in the past.

“It may need to be audited in the future, it may not need to be audited in the future,” Swinton said during the meeting. “It has been audited in the past, and we’ve receive that report this spring.”

Board President Lee Ann Wilson said during Wednesday’s meeting that it would be appropriate to ask companies about how long and audit would take and what expense would be involved.

Recommendations from the Oklahoma State Department of Education on who would conduct the audit will be a part of the board’s consideration, Wilson confirmed during the meeting.

During the motion to approve the audit, members expressed confusion over whether the corporate account was considered a donor account or an activity fund.

Andy Evans, director of finance for the Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center, a non-profit that works with charter schools and regular school districts, said if it is an activity fund, the district needs to know what revenue was earned and what the expenditures were.

Seeworth Academy had been a member of OPSRC, and Oklahoma City Public Schools has hired the organization to oversee the transition of Seeworth back under the district’s management.

Swinton said in response that she is not in total agreement that a donation account is going to be OKCPS’ property.

But Evans said activity funds could have been mixed with donor money.

If there were activity funds placed into it, that is a contaminated fund and we have to know what’s in there,” Evans said. “Because if it’s activity fund money then, yes, it will become Oklahoma City (Public Schools) property. But if it’s donation money, then I would agree with you 100 percent.”

Matt Cyran, legal counsel for the board, said an ultimate conclusion about the fund will be made once the audit is complete.

As of a June 20 meeting, the board has relinquished the school as a charter. Starting June 30, OKCPS will begin taking over full authority of Seeworth’s property, except for their bank accounts.

OKCPS will gain authority over the bank accounts once the audit on the corporate fund is complete to avoid mixing their funds with Seeworth’s board.

Within the transition, the teachers of Seeworth are going through a rehiring process with OKCPS, but not all teachers may keep their jobs owing to potential certification issues.

Number about how many of Seeworth’s teachers hold teaching certifications were not made available by the time this story was published.

Seeworth Academy allegedly misused funds

In May, Seeworth Academy faced allegations from OSDE that it misused state and federal funds, spurring the decision to relinquish the charter and return authority to OKCPS.

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In a letter sent to Seeworth from OSDE on May 2, evidence was found that the school failed to account for taxpayer dollars, failed to maintain accounting records and failed to provide services to students with disabilities in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

While monitoring the campus, OSDE staff obtained a list of problematic purchase orders from Walmart, Office Depot and IPFS Corporation, which was described as a reimbursement entity for the school’s “corporate account,” according to the letter.

According to the May 2 letter, Seeworth Academy staff could not provide information about the account or other financial records, because all records were kept at a private residence in Talihina, 180 miles away.

“The OSDE has reason to believe that the School may intend to destroy documentation,” the letter said. “Please be advised that any action and conduct to alter or destroy a record may be a violation of law and/or deemed to interfere with OSDE’s obligations and authority to review these matters.”