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Criminal charges likely Ohio's school data-rigging case
Columbus schools is picked out for special scrutiny

Ida Lieszkovszky
In The Region:

State Auditor Dave Yost now says his investigation into attendance data manipulation will likely lead to criminal charges in the largest school system in the state.

StateImpact Ohio’s Ida Lieszkovszky reports that the auditor’s office has decided to separate its investigation into Columbus City Schools from the statewide investigation it’s been doing for months.


LIESZKOVSZKY: Data rigging charges likely

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The state auditor’s previous investigations into Columbus City Schools have found evidence of tampering with attendance data. But the auditor’s office says it’s now breaking off Columbus City Schools from the statewide investigation, and expanding it to include grade changing – for example switching an F to a D.

William Owen – chief legal counsel for the state auditor -- says he also has reason to suspect school officials have been intimidating witnesses.

“When I see a witness talk to an investigator and then call the next day crying that they are going to lose their job because they were ‘talked to’ by someone in the administration, that gives rise for concern.”

Owen has publicly asked the district not to interfere with the investigation. He worries not just for witnesses fearful for their jobs, but also that any future witnesses may be too scared to come forward. 
In a response letter, the attorney for the Columbus schools Robert Trafford says accusations of interference are baseless.

Owen says there’s a good chance the investigation into Columbus City Schools will lead to referrals for criminal prosecution to the Franklin County prosecutor. He hopes to have something to report by the end of the year. 
Federal investigators are also looking into the Columbus case. 


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