New Allegations In Columbus City Schools Data Rigging

Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris is accused of interfering in a 2004 internal audit.(Photo: Columbus City Schools)
Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris is accused of interfering in a 2004 internal audit.(Photo: Columbus City Schools)

A former Columbus City Schools internal auditor told the Columbus Dispatch Superintendent Gene Harris interfered when she wanted to investigate student-attendance records in 2004.

Tina Abdella said it was made clear to her that she and her staff would not be conducting the probe. The Dispatch article said Harris asked the Ohio Department of Education to step in and help with the audit. And the district received a flattering review from the state.

Columbus City Schools board member Mike Wiles told WOSU he is not sure whether Harris should be placed on administrative leave or step down. Wiles said he’s waiting on the internal audit to be completed.

“I don’t rule out any action once we have all the facts straight. Nobody wants to face any decisions on innuendos, allegations or rumors, all that kind of stuff,” he said.

Board President Carol Perkins was more reserved in her comments, saying the claims at this time are just that, allegations.

“We have to wait to see what we’re dealing with, and, again, anything that was printed in the Dispatch this morning and we don’t know the accuracy of that information at this time,” Perkins said.

Former district auditor Abdella was fired in 2005. Six months later, Harris hired the person who was served as the district’s contact at the state education department during the audit.

WOSU requested an interview with Harris, but was told the superintendent did not have time until early next week. District spokesman Jeff Warner told WOSU Harris had nothing to do with the previous auditor’s firing.

The school board’s next meeting is Tuesday. While Wiles did not rule out an executive session to discuss the allegations, Perkins said the board will not discuss the investigation until it is complete.

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