Teachers must be protected from actions by STRS

Ohio teachers deserve better than the worry being stoked by questions about the State Teachers Retirement System. They can hardly be blamed for wondering what in the world prompted consulting firm Aon to sever its ties with the agency.

Gov. Mike DeWine is right to be seeking an investigation after Aon made several recommendations to improve corporate governance at STRS … and then showed itself out.

“The unstated implication is that the governance issues at STRS are so concerning that Aon could not continue its contract in good faith,” DeWine said. “STRS may now be out of compliance with portions of audit recommendations due to Aon ending the contract.”

STRS had been asked to “improve fiduciary performance,” including “improvements in STRS’ use of committees,…a ‘revitalization’ of investment and audit committees, and the creation of a board governance committee,” according to the governor’s office.

Aon was contracted to help with that process. DeWine may have understated things when he said, “This is a huge red flag, calling into question how STRS is operating and providing oversight.”

Meanwhile, DeWine said his office has received documents containing other allegations regarding the STRS board.

“I have directed my staff to forward these documents to a number of relevant offices, including the Ohio Ethics Commission, the Ohio Retirement Study Council, Attorney General Yost, Auditor Faber, Treasurer Sprague, Secretary of State LaRose and relevant members of the Ohio General Assembly. I encourage them to review the document and take any action that may be appropriate under any jurisdiction they may have,” DeWine said.

One would think a state agency that exists solely for the purpose of ensuring teachers’ retirement investment accounts and portfolios are financially sound would take pride in top-notch corporate governance. If DeWine’s assessment of the situation is correct, that does not seem to be the case.

Those asked by DeWine to investigate and take action on the matter must give Ohio teachers the courtesy of doing so immediately.



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