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A recent state audit report found that a Birmingham charter school misspent or failed to document more than $300,000 in funds over two years.

Auditors with the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts (ADEPA) discovered Legacy Prep Charter School in Northwest Birmingham failed to maintain proper financial record-keeping, ensure fair purchasing processes, abide by its charter school contract and implement and enforce internal controls on its use of credit cards.

The audit was conducted from Oct.1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2021, and was filed on Sept. 23, 2022.

It found that expenditures were made to establishments such as TopGolf and Life Touch Massage, as well as various restaurants and delivery services like Dave and Busters, GrubHub and DoorDash. It also revealed gift cards were purchased for staff at stores such as Best Buy, TJ Maxx, Nike, Old Navy, Target, Loft and Ralph Lauren. 

The audit resulted in charges against Legacy Prep’s founder and former CEO Jonta Morris, who resigned in 2021. 

Originally, Morris was asked to repay $311,516.53, matching the total expenditures made by the school’s checking, money market and credit card accounts that were either for unallowable uses of public funds or were not properly documented.

However, Chief Examiner Rachel Riddle granted Morris total relief of the charges after additional evidence was presented.

Riddle told 1819 News she dismissed the charges after Morris was able to provide documentation proving she was not personally responsible.

Riddle said she doesn’t believe this was a matter of people knowingly spending money that wasn’t theirs. Instead, it was a failure by the school to document its expenses properly. 

“The theme of this is poor documentation and poor record keeping,” Riddle said.

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