The new acting superintendent of Ohio schools has acknowledged that he misused a school district credit card two years ago.
Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said Friday that Michael L. Sawyers' improper use of an official credit card while he was chief of Perry Local Schools in northeast Ohio was merely a mistake.
Sawyers said that he used the school district credit card to purchase things like pizzas and even a bottle of wine. His bill totaled more than $850.
“I wasn’t paying attention, used the wrong colored credit card, ultimately for a personal purchase and at dinner with a board of education member rather than my own personal card,” Sawyers said.
Sawyers paid the money back.
“I apologized to the Perry community at a school board meeting and to take responsibly for my actions,” Sawyers said.
Watchdog 10 obtained documents that showed Sawyers told the Ohio Department Of Education about his past problems when he applied for a deputy superintendent position in 2010.
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar said that she believed that the incident was a mistake. She showed Watchdog 10 her business and personal credit cards to show the similarities.
“The background checks that were done, they believed at the time he was a great fit for our state education department and he has done a marvelous job,” Terhar said.
Sawyers took over on Friday for former Superintendent Stan Heffner, who resigned after an Inspector General’s report found that Heffner misused his office.
Sawyers said that he understood that those in high offices are held to higher standards and said that he was moving forward with one thing in mind.
“I will do everything in my power in the next 10 days to support education throughout Ohio and the 1.867 million kids that come back (to school), I want them to have a successful start and have an outstanding year,” Sawyers said.
The board of education plans to meet on Aug. 20 to decide what is next for its department and whether it includes Sawyers.
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