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 that nobody can account for. It’s money that came in to five schools under a particular area treasurer, and 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. And we had federal question costs. That means money that we think wasn’t spent for the purposes that the federal government gave it to the school to begin with. And that’s just on a sample. 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 some sort of conviction over this -- or be charged with crimes because of this?"
YOST: "Well, on the first thing, $28,000 in unaccounted-for money...We're sending that down to the prosecutor in Franklin County. And they could decide to pursue this criminally or civilly or both. With regards to the federal money, that goes to the United States Department of Education. And they will negotiate, work with the schools and end up on a figure that, quite frankly, will likely be withheld from their allocation for 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 their 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 in the statewide attendance audit at 2010 and '11. This was 2011 to 2012, so we tested the attendance again. And 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 that they should tighten up and check what’s going on with their data collection and reporting to make sure it’s accurate and it really reflects what’s going on with the kids."
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.