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Officials Discuss Report on Columbus Schools Data Manipulation

COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia/Ken Hines) -- The Ohio State Auditor met with officials from Columbus Schools on Wednesday to discuss a report on alleged data manipulation within the district.

The two-hour meeting was attended by State Auditor Dave Yost, Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dan Good, new Columbus Board of Education President Gary Baker, and others involved in the investigation into the alleged doctoring of attendance figures and grades.

Attendees left the meeting without publicly commenting on the findings of the 100-page report, but Columbus Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Good did address his desire to correct any problems that exist in the district.

"I do welcome [the report]. Our focus needs to be on student achievement," Good said.  "If there are ways we can improve our system and rid the district of any waste or fraud, we need to do that so we can be laser-like in ensuring our students are achieving their potential."

Good's predecessor, Dr. Gene Harris, resigned in August, 2013 amid the auditor's investigation into the alleged data doctoring, but denied knowledge of any wrongdoing.

The auditor's report is expected to be released to the public in late January.

A whistleblower who has been interviewed about a dozen times by investigators said he is waiting anxiously for the results of the report. 

Keith Finn, a retired data analyst for the district, told ABC 6 he thinks the cheating he discovered was unfortunate because it hurt students. 

"The kids who were out there who didn't get to graduate and it is hard enough being a poor person without getting at least a high school diploma," Finn said. "So the kids that didn't get enough help to get through school, think about it, that is a lot of wasted potential."

Finn said he tried to talk to Harris about the data manipulation but she wasn't interested.  As for whether she knew about it, Finn would not speculate if she did or did not know about it.

"I was pretty low on the totem pole so I was diffident about it," he said. "I was treading on very very political ground and I am not comfortable there."

Finn said the community has been impacted by the investigation and said the trust level is very bad now.

"Once you lose the trust, it takes a long time to build that back."

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