Corcoran said he would move to shut down the organization unless The Able Trust met 10 demands, which included the resignations of its officers and board of directors, as well as the exit of president and chief executive officer, Susanne Homant, who held the post since 2007.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has threatened a criminal investigation into a state organization that helps Floridians with disabilities, after learning about potential misuse of millions of dollars and alleged “incompetence” on the part of its leadership.
His threats, outlined in an Aug. 15 letter obtained by The News Service of Florida, already have prompted a leadership shake-up at The Able Trust, a nonprofit organization for the state education department’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Corcoran said he would move to shut down the organization unless The Able Trust met 10 demands, which included the resignations of its officers and board of directors, as well as the exit of president and chief executive officer Susanne Homant, who held the post since 2007.
“Should the terms herein not be fully complied with by The Able Trust, the department intends to immediately sever any contractual or other similar relationships with The Able Trust,” Corcoran wrote.
The education commissioner added that he would “subsequently direct this matter to the appropriate law enforcement agency or state attorney and if necessary the Internal Revenue Service,” if his demands were not met.
Numerous attempts by the News Service to reach The Able Trust for comment were unsuccessful.
Corcoran pointed to “several egregious concerns” at The Able Trust, which helps more than 45,000 individuals with disabilities get and maintain jobs every year.
In his letter, he said the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation “has not received the full benefits of a functioning (direct-support organization) for several years.”
Corcoran said the organization should undergo a full audit by the state auditor general, “to include findings regarding potential malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, or incompetence on the part of board members.”
Some of the organization’s issues were outlined in a June audit conducted by Corcoran’s inspector general. In that report, auditors flagged issues with “inaccurate reporting of administrative costs,” singling out discrepancies in how Homant’s annual $224,975 salary was reported.
State auditors said The Able Trust inaccurately reported that its administrative costs made up 12 percent of the organization’s expenditures. But the audit found expenditures accounted for 18 percent of the nonprofit’s expenses.
Homant insisted that not all of her salary should be considered an administrative cost. However, auditors said, failing to accurately report administrative costs “could lead to non-compliance with the statutes.”
The Able Trust management “generally disagreed” with auditors’ interpretation of a state mandate that says “administrative costs shall be kept to the minimum amount necessary … and are limited to 15 percent of the total expenditures in any calendar year.”
In a June 17 response to the audit, The Able Trust defended its reporting by saying the organization is managed by a “very small staff,” which required its leaders to take on more than one job.
“It was estimated by Able Trust that (Homant’s) time was 75 percent to programs and 25 percent to administrative.”