Former Monroe treasurer could lose license

Former Monroe schools treasurer Kelley Thorpe could have her treasurer’s license revoked or suspended, pending a hearing before the State Board of Education, according to documents obtained by the Middletown Journal.

Thorpe, who currently serves as treasurer for Middletown City Schools, was notified by the Ohio Department of Education on Wednesday that a hearing would be held to “determine whether to limit, suspend, revoke or permanently revoke” her five-year treasurer license, which was issued in 2011. The hearing would also deal with whether “to deny or permanently deny” Thorpe’s pending application for a five-year school business manager license.

In a 1,200-plus page report, the ODE accuses Thorpe of repeated violations of the law, the code of conduct for Ohio educators and the standards for school treasurers and business administrators. She faces multiple counts, including “allowing funds to be expended in ways other than they were appropriated, allowing appropriations to exceed estimated revenue, allowing expenditures in excess of appropriations, repeated failure to accurately report information and repeated failure to take corrective action.”

Thorpe has until Nov. 8 to request a hearing. If she doesn’t, the state board of education will make a decision on its own.

Calls to Thorpe’s office and cell phone were not returned Friday.

Thorpe was the Monroe district’s treasurer and chief financial officer for fiscal year’s 2008 to 2011. Faced with an operating budget of $2.2 million and a bond retirement debt of $3.1 million, the Monroe school district was placed under fiscal emergency by state auditor Dave Yost on May 10.

Monroe is the first Butler County district to fall into fiscal emergency. District officials have placed a 7.05-mill, five-year emergency operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, which would generate about $2.5 million per year.

According to Monroe school officials, Thorpe had moved funds from the bond retirement fund without the board’s approval. The district filed a lawsuit against Thorpe on June 29 in Butler County Common Pleas Court on 14 charges of misconduct on duty. Thorpe’s attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss, but as of Friday, the case had not yet been resolved.

“I believe the issue is now between the ODE and the former treasurer and that the issue will be handled to the best of their abilities,” said interim Monroe superintendent Phil Cagwin, who took over for Elizabeth Lolli last month.

Middletown City Schools could be forced to start a search for another treasurer if Thorpe loses her license. Middletown City Schools Superintendent Greg Rasmussen had little to say on the matter Friday.

“I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment as the investigation is ongoing and does not, to the best of my knowledge, involve any actions during her tenure at Middletown City Schools,” Rasmussen said. “The case is in the hands of the Ohio Department of Education and I trust it will be handled in a timely and professional way.”

Rasmussen would not comment about whether the district had a contingency plan in place if Thorpe’s license is suspended or revoked. Robin Long is listed as the district’s assistant treasurer.