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Investigation launched into Ohio teachers’ retirement system after ‘disturbing allegations’

Investigation launched into Ohio teachers’ retirement system after ‘disturbing allegations’

Current, future and retired teachers are worried about a state investigation touching their financial future.

As reported on News Center 7 at 6, they have been concerned about their retirement benefits for years.

Now the Ohio Attorney General has started his own investigation into the board managing the public pension.

News Center 7′s John Bedell looked into how this impacts thousands of people in our viewing area.

Teachers who work at Troy High School, and every other public district in the state pay into it.

There are more than 21,000 members in the Miami Valley – with more than half of them drawing benefits.

News Center 7 spoke to two retirees in Miami County.

Kim Stephenson and Tammy Conley retired from Tipp City Schools after teaching there for three decades.

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Their monthly state pension benefits are their only source of income.

“The impact of that benefit is that’s my livelihood. That’s my money that I have to live on for the rest of my life,” Stephenson said.

In Ohio, people who pay into the state teacher retirement system don’t draw Social Security retirement benefits.

“Considering the fact that both my husband and I are retired teachers and this is our sole income at this point, we rely totally on what we were promised,” Conley said.

Conley and Stephenson said they’ve been concerned about their monthly checks.

But now there’s a new concern from the state level.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced his office has opened an investigation into the state teachers retirement system and whether its board is acting in the best interest of teachers.

“I have those exact same concerns about are they acting in the best interest as our fiduciary?’ because it’s our hard-earned money that we have contributed to our pension system that we feel is not being appropriated right,” Stephenson said.

In a statement sent to News Center 7, STRS Board Chair Dale Price wrote:

“Recent audits demonstrate that STRS Ohio is well-run and that the pension fund is in sound financial position. Questions raised involve board governance. Teachers in the classroom and retired educators should know their pension is safe and secure. STRS Ohio will continue to protect the stability and integrity of the organization and will fully cooperate with all offices in their review of the pension system.”

Stephenson and Conley said they’ve seen that statement and are skeptical.

“I don’t feel that that’s what’s happening at this point. The status quo members of this board have been not doing what is in the best interest of teachers and retirees,” Conley said.

This impacts the more than 536,000 STRS members across Ohio, roughly a third of them are receiving benefits.

The board chair said STRS will fully cooperate with the AG’s office investigation.

News Center 7 reached out to Yost’s office for an interview today but they did not respond.

We will continue to follow this story.

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