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Ohio Department of Ed Number Two Michael Sawyers Charged Food, Gas to District Card a Couple Years Ago

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Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Alan Chan / Flickr

Ohio State Superintendent Stan Heffner resigned Saturday in the face of an Inspector General's report finding that he had improperly lobbied for a private company he was planning to go work for, and had used state equipment and personnel for his personal business.

Now the Columbus Dispatch is bringing up the fact that Heffner's No. 2, Michael Sawyers, misused a district credit card while he was superintendent of the Perry Local school district in Lake County, but was hired by the State Board of Education anyway.

Perry Local school board minutes show that Sawyers "made personal purchases on a district credit card in violation of Ohio Revised Code and Board Policy, including food, alcohol, gas, a scenic tour and souvenirs, and said it was a mistake, and has repaid amounts totaling $858.19."

Sawyers told the News-Herald he confused a district-issued MasterCard with his personal MasterCard.

The credit card charges were no secret: Perry Local school board minutes show they were discussed at public meetings, and the board adopted a lengthy resolution reprimanding him. The News-Herald ran several articles about the controversy. And the board placed a letter about it in Sawyers' personnel file.

Sawyers told the DIspatch he "disclosed the infractions to the state board during the hiring process in 2010:"

He said the mistake wouldn’t affect whether he applies to replace Heffner on a full-time basis. “I would let my track record for the last 23 months speak for itself,” Sawyers said. “I think I’ve done an incredible amount of work in a short amount of time.

But State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, who took office in January 2011, told the Dispatch she was not aware of the charges until last week. Still, she said she didn't think the situation was significant:

“It was an error that is commonly made,” Terhar said of Sawyers. “My husband and I have a business credit card and a personal credit card and they’re identical. It’s easy to mix those up.”

Sawyers is slated to become Ohio's interim superintendent at 5 p.m. Friday, when Heffner's resignation takes effect.

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