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Tankovich Confirms 'No Contest' Plea in CCS Data-Doctoring Scandal

Updated: Thursday, July 31 2014, 06:35 PM EDT
Tankovich Confirms
COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia/Sean Rowe) -- The first person to face criminal charges in the Columbus City Schools data-doctoring scandal confirmed his "no contest" plea at Franklin County Common Pleas Court Thursday morning.

Stephen B. Tankovich -- the former executive director of the district's Office of Accountability Systems -- is accused of attempted tampering with government records, which is a fourth-degree felony. The records involved allegedly altered student data for Adequate Yearly progress and Ohio Graduation Test results.

Tankovich went before Administrative Judge Patrick E. Sheeran Thursday, verbally confirming his plea of "no contest." The plea is in response to a felony charge of attempted tampering with government records.

The maximum sentence is 18 months in prison. But, because Tankovich does not have a prior criminal history, he will likely be placed on probation and not serve time in jail.

Although Tankovich wasn't sentenced Thursday, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told ABC6/FOX28 News' Lu Ann Stoia that Tankovich isn't finished with his job.

That, in fact, is part of the plea initially submitted in a written agreement. In the agreement, Tankovich must work with the state's prosecutor’s office further on the data-doctoring investigation.

When asked if retired CCS Superintendent Gene Harris is in O'Brien's sights, the prosecutor said, "I don’t want to identify people by names who might face charges in the future. I do know there will be at least two others coming in the next month to enter a plea under similar circumstances and we are working on others; but, I would hesitate to mention any names."

Tankovich attorney Mark Collins said, "I believe that they, the U.S.  Attorney's Office, the FBI, the Auditor's Office, the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, I think they acknowledge he is a good person and all of this was out of goodness. He was trying to help the district help students, and help the citizens of Columbus."

The attorney refused to take questions about Thursday's proceedings at Common Pleas Court.

Tankovich is also named in a civil lawsuit brought by two principals at Columbus City Schools. District officials say they are firing the administrators for altering thousands of students records at the school system.

The two principals, however, say they have been made scapegoats. They claim that Tankovich and Harris were allowed to retire and not suffer any consequences.

ABC6/FOX28 tried to contact current CCS Superintendent Dan Good and was told that he was out of the district on Thursday. A spokesperson for Good said that the matter is between Tankovich and the prosecutor.Tankovich Confirms 'No Contest' Plea in CCS Data-Doctoring Scandal
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