Auditor: Columbus Schools Changed Grades; Prosecution Likely

The State Auditor suggests some Columbus City Schools' employees could be criminally prosecuted in an investigation into attendance practices.(Photo: WOSU News)
The State Auditor suggests some Columbus City Schools' employees could be criminally prosecuted in an investigation into attendance practices.(Photo: WOSU News)

There are new developments in the Columbus Schools data rigging investigation. State auditor Dave Yost’s office now says criminal charges are likely. And as WOSU reports, the probe has expanded to more than attendance data.

The state auditor put Columbus City Schools on notice that some employees could face criminal prosecution once the state’s investigation into attendance manipulation is completed.
Bill Owen, chief legal counsel for Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, says it is very likely the office will recommend criminal charges at the conclusion of the probe which is expected by January.

“Certainly in an investigation like this there are multiple charges that could involve public corruption,” Owen said.

In addition to strong evidence the district dis-enrolled and re-enrolled students, Owen says the auditor’s office is looking into whether grades were purposely changed to better scores, like an “F” to a “D.”

Better test scores and attendance could have led to the district to receive more federal funds.
And Owen maintains Columbus Schools administrators continue to interfere with the investigation. He says officials are questioning employees interviewed by the auditor’s staff.

“What concerns us, again, is in fact people are in fear of their own job, but, also the chilling affect it has on any criminal investigation,” Owen said.

Columbus City Schools attorney Robert Trafford said in a letter that the district has not interfered with the investigation or discouraged anyone from speaking openly to the auditor’s office. Trafford’s letter did not address allegations of grade changing or potential criminal charges.

Also, Columbus Schools confirmed that federal authorities have joined the investigation.

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