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Former superintendent ordered to repay $500K to school after conviction

Cincinnati Technology Academy.JPG
Posted at 4:34 PM, Aug 15, 2023

CINCINNATI — The former superintendent of a Cincinnati school must repay $543,478 after he was convicted for contracting a janitorial business he controlled to provide services to the school, according to a press release from the Ohio Auditor of State.

In March of this year, Roger Conners, the former superintendent of Cincinnati Technology Academy, pleaded guilty to having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a felony.

Cincinnati Technology Academy is classified as a public community school.

"Community schools, which are often called charter schools nationally and in other states, are public schools created in Ohio law; are independent of any school district; and are part of the state’s education program. Community schools are public schools of choice and are state and federally funded," according to the Ohio Department of Education website.

In April, Conners was sentenced to five years of community control, a fine of $1,000 and he was banned from holding any fiduciary position or having a government contract for five years.

Conners was superintendent of the school between July 2013 and March 2022, when he was fired.

According to the auditor's office, the Auditor of State's Special Investigation Unit (SIU) began an investigation into Conners in May of 2018, after the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office contacted them.

The investigation showed Conners' janitorial company, MC Services, was contracted by Cincinnati Technology Academy from April 2014 through July 2021.

In that time, SIU's investigation found the school issued 147 checks to MC Services for janitorial, housekeeping and maintenance services. Those checks totaled $543,478.

The contracts were for 12 months, signed by Conners as the school's director.

"Though bank accounts for the vendor were set up in other people's names, Conners controlled the business and personally benefited from the payments it received, contrary to state law," reads a press release from the auditor's office.

The full auditor's report says investigators found there were nearly $51,000 in cash withdraws and expenditures made for or by Conners; the audit also says Conners used some of the money from the school's payments to pay personal medical bills, buy a vehicle, boat parts and a stove.

Court documents say Conners "personally established" Cincinnati Technology Academy himself and "was immensely proud of the school and the educational opportunities that it provided to area children."

The court documents also say that despite Conners' improper association with the janitorial company contracted by the school, the school itself did not incur any financial loss and janitorial duties were handled as contracted.

According to the auditor's full report, Conners also worked at Riverside Academy and was the superintendent at Theordore Roosevelt Academy prior to becoming superintendent at Cincinnati Technology Academy.

The full report says Conners was also convicted of selling motor vehicles without a license in 2018, while he was superintendent for Cincinnati Technology Academy but before his firing in 2022.

Then, in 2020, the State Board of Education denied Conners' license renewals "based upon him engaging in conduct that was unbecoming to the teaching profession."

In that case, the auditor's report says Conners allowed a person he knew to be a sex offender to work in the Cincinnati Technology Academy when students were present during the 2017-2018 school year. The charter school placed Conners on administrative leave for two weeks.

WCPO reached out to Keith Fabor, Ohio Auditor of State, for comment, but he was unable to speak because he was out of state for a conference. We also reached out to the Cincinnati Technology Academy and its board of advisers, but have not yet heard back.

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