State Auditor Says Columbus Superintendent Search May Have Violated Laws

Mar 7, 2018

The Columbus School Board is trying to figure out who will lead the district, but the state auditor is concerned they may violating state sunshine laws in their search for the next superintendent.

On Wednesday, officials from the state auditor’s office began collecting records from the Columbus school board. The concern, according to Auditor Dave Yost, is the board’s string of closed door sessions as they narrowed the field of candidates for superintendent.

“We don’t know for sure what the facts are—that’s why we're in there looking,” Yost says. “But there’s some evidence, some appearance that, perhaps, the fix was in.”

Board members can meet behind closed doors in “executive session” but all decisions are supposed to be made in public.

“There’s at least some suggestion,” Yost says, “that maybe these decisions were made in private and then the board vote a number of days later was just a pro-forma kind of thing and the law says you’re not allowed to do that.”

In an emailed statement, a district spokesman denies any wrongdoing.

“The Columbus Board of Education is not commenting on Mr. Yost’s assertions at this time,” the statement reads. “The District believes that there have been no violations of the Open Meeting laws. The Board has been very public and open about the search for our next Superintendent.”

After Akron Public Schools superintendent Dave James removed himself contention a week ago, the list of remaining finalists was reduced to one—interim superintendent John Stanford. The school board is still mulling its next steps after James’ abrupt change of heart.