Veteran journalist Lindsay Wagner writes that Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian School–the state’s largest recipient of taxpayer-funded vouchers–is involved in a major financial scandal. North Carolina places no accountability for how taxpayer money is used or whether students make academic progress. The voucher schools get taxpayer money with neither accountability nor transparency.

North Carolina’s largest recipient of private school vouchers has filed a financial review that lacked basic information consistent with “generally accepted accounting principles,” according to the agency overseeing the taxpayer-funded program.

Because Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian School—also currently embroiled in a separate embezzlement scandal—received more than $300,000 in voucher funds during the 2015-16 academic year, it is required to submit a financial review of their organization.

According to records provided by the State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA), the agency tasked with overseeing the voucher program, the financial review submitted last December lacked crucial elements typically found in such statement including a statement of cash flows and a balance sheet. What was included instead was a brief “statement of activities” that only listed top line revenues and expenses as well as a supplemental schedule of functional expenses.

It is remarkable to omit a more detailed balance sheet from a set of basic financial statements, said Mig Murphy Sistrom, a Durham-based accountant whose firm specializes in preparing financial reports for nonprofit organizations.

Because the accounting firm that prepared the financial review for Trinity Christian—Edwards Pechmann & Packer, Inc.—did not include a balance sheet, “it raises a concern that the organization may not have accounting records adequate to produce a balance sheet,” said Murphy Sistrum.

Since 2014, Trinity Christian has received more than $1.2 million in taxpayer funds through the Opportunity Scholarships Program, which provides low-income families money to attend private schools. For the academic year 2016-17, school voucher recipients comprised 60 percent of Trinity Christian’s enrollment, according to state records. The voucher school’s overall school enrollment grew by 25 percent between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The state places few requirements on private voucher schools to account for how the taxpayer dollars are used to educate students, demonstrate achievement of the students who receive the aid or any transparency to assure the funds are used as intended.

What would Betsy DeVos say? Let the free market figure it out?