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Ohio Democrats Say State Schools' Chief is Getting Off Easy

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Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM

State superintendent Stan Heffner spoke to the Akron Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 28, 2011. He will step down from his position as State Superintendent on August 10, 2012.

Last Thursday, Ohio’s Inspector General released a report that concluded the state schools’ chief, Stan Heffner, had “failed to meet the standards of proper governmental conduct.”

Within two days, Stan Heffner had resigned.

The Inspector General’s report was based on testimony Stan Heffner gave last year before Ohio lawmakers supporting a bill that increases teacher testing in the state.

At the time, Heffner was set to take a job with one of the nation’s largest testing companies, which could have benefited greatly from that kind of law. The Inspector General’s report also said Heffner used his secretary, state time and equipment to scout out a new home, try to sell his old one and make travel arrangements for his new job.

After the report came out, Heffner apologized publicly.

But a firestorm had started, and by Saturday, Heffner had announced he'll be stepping down as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. His last day on the job will be August 10, 2012.

In a statement, he said “much needed components underway in Ohio’s schools are too important to let anything get in their way.”

[audio href="http://audio2.ideastream.org/wcpn/2012/08/0806heffnerresigns.mp3" title="State Schools' Chief Resigns Amid Controversy"]Ohio Democrats say his misdeeds warrant a criminal investigation.[/audio]

But the Ohio Democratic Party says he’s getting off easy.

“These are serious criminal allegations and he should be part of a criminal investigation," says Chris Redfern, the party's chairman.

[related_content align="right"]He says other lawmakers have had to face criminal charges for their misdeeds, like former Republican lobbyist Tom Noe, who was convicted of steering state investments into his rare coin fund.

“Tom Noe didn’t get to resign and go away," Redfern says. "Others didn’t get the chance to resign and go away when they were involved in Republican pay-to-play scandals. Mr. Heffner and others around him in the Department of Education should be held to account.”

The Inspector General does not have the authority to prosecute, but his report has been delivered to prosecuting authorities in Franklin County, Columbus, and at the Ohio Ethics Commission.

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