Update: State Audit Finds Faults In Columbus City Schools

Apr 4, 2013

Ohio’s Auditor has released an audit on the Columbus City School district and the findings are not good news.

In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, State Auditor Dave Yost explains the audit found some areas where it looks like there might be wrongdoing.

Yost – Well one of the things we found in this audit is 28,000 dollars that nobody can account for.  It’s money that came in to 5 schools under a particular area treasurer but that money was never deposited in the bank so we issued a finding for recovery.

Ingles – Finding for recovery but you also found other things as well, right?

Yost – Well there are.  We had federal question costs.  That means money that wasn’t spent for the purposes that the money was given to the school to begin with.  And that’s just on the surface.  We estimate the actual question costs would amount to a quarter of a million dollars across the entire universe of expenditures.

Ingles – Now is it possible that someone at the school district could face with some sort of conviction or be charged with crimes because of this?

Yost – Well, on the first thing, the 28,000 dollars in unaccounted for money…we are sending that down to the prosecutor in Franklin County.  They could decide to pursue this criminally or civilly or both.  With regards to the federal money, that goes to the U.S. Department of Education.  They will negotiate and work with the schools and end up on an amount that quite frankly will likely be withheld next year.

Ingles – What recommendations did you make as part of this audit to Columbus Schools for the future?

Yost – We’ve made a number of recommendations to tighten up their management and internal controls.  Another finding was actually a material weakness.  We also looked at the ongoing issue- this was a year after on the attendance issues – we had looked at the statewide attendance audit in 2010-11.  This was 2011-2012 so we tested the attendance again.  So our recommendations there really echo the recommendations we made in the statewide audit to the Ohio Department of Education.

Ingles – And those were?

Yost – A variety of ways to tighten up and check what’s going on with their data collection and reporting to make sure it’s accurate and that it really reflects (…..what’s going on with the kids 22:42)

Yost says his office will be checking back on Columbus as part of another audit that’s ongoing with that district.  That audit involves allegations of grade changing and questions over student attendance.