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Columbus City Schools Retains Attorneys
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The Columbus City Schools District has retained outside legal counsel in the wake of the attendance data investigation being conducted by the state. WOSU reports school board members approved the move at last night’s board meeting.
Columbus City Schools says the records requests related to the state auditor’s investigation of alleged attendance rigging are so demanding it needs the help of attorneys to handle them.
The school board voted to use up to $100,000 for legal services by Porter Wright Morris and Arthur.
Superintendent Gene Harris says the attorneys will help the district respond quickly to Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s requests, as well as those by the media.
“One day we had a total of eight or nine public, in one day, public records request, and that’s pretty intense work,” she says. “And you know, that’s pretty intense work. And some of it is sometimes specialized when you get electronic requests and those kinds of things.”
School board member Mike Wiles was the lone “no” vote.
“I was all for getting the help for the legal department and all these other things,” Wiles says. “But the scope needed to be narrower and the price tag needed to be a whole lot less.”
While the resolution calls for help pertaining to records requests, it also states attorneys will assist the district in responses to questions related to how school employees may have created, maintained or altered attendance records.
Wiles says he does not think the district sought the counsel for a potential court case, but according to Harris the district has not considered how else the expertise may be used.
“We haven’t anticipated everything that we might need them for; so we’re just not sure, but right now it’s expanding our capacity,” Harris says.
It’s unknown how long auditor Yost’s investigation will take, although he has said he hopes to wrap it up by fall.
Yost, as well as the school district’s internal auditor, are reviewing school records to see if thousands of students were retroactively withdrawn and re-enrolled. That action could skew state report cards to yield a better score.