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COLUMBUS SCHOOLS SCANDAL: Former Employee Called Mastermind

COLUMBUS (Ken Hines) -- A former employee believed by investigators to be the mastermind of an alleged data manipulation effort within Columbus City Schools remains tight-lipped about his suspected role in the scandal.

Investigators with Ohio Auditor Dave Yost's office allege that former Columbus City Schools (CCS) Executive Director Steve Tankovich was at the center of a widespread effort to change student attendance and grade records in order to improve the standing of the district on Ohio Department of Education report cards.

Multiple witnesses told auditors that Tankovich instructed district data center employees and school principals to alter attendance records, according to Yost.

"People started challenging Mr. Tankovich. Numerous interviews recounted concerns being raised about this practice with Tankovich, and he assured them this was o.k.," Yost said. "Our interviews with the Department of Education unequivocally did not say it was o.k."

Records indicate that former CCS Superintendent Dr. Gene Harris reassigned Tankovich in June, 2012, eight months before he resigned from the district amid Yost's investigation. In his resignation letter, the 44-year-employee claimed he was leaving his job to concentrate on family and health concerns.

Tankovich refused to cooperate with Yost's investigators during their probe into the data manipulation allegations, according to the auditor. Tankovich has not responded to a request for comment made by ABC 6/FOX 28.

Yost has told prosecutors he believes that Tankovich should face charges related to the alleged misconduct within the district.
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