Eye on Education

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

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.


  • BButtons

    Imagine that? As we travel down the list of people at the Ohio Dept of Education that are in power, this will seem like small potatoes. Watching this play out is like watching a slow motion Tsunami! It gets worse as you dig deeper! We know what Heffner is about now, and we know what M Sawyers is about, do it should be no surprise who will be next…

  • Appalled Educator

    Deb Terhar did not know about the infractions? No one is paying attention to anything at this place! And they have the gall to tell us teachers anything?

  • Please. . .

    For the sake of Ohio education, please stop promoting unethical people.

  • Lemhikid

    The tour limo in San Francisco for a party of four was booked well in advance by Sawyers’ secretary on the Perry Local District’s credit card. Same color – hogwash. The San Francisco jaunt which included Sawyers, and a party of three, alone, by our calculations ate up most if not all of the $850 plus that was reimbursed to the Perry District. The real question is in the years that the district’s card was misused where was the financial officer, and the school board?

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