Complaint Made By Rep. Phillips Sparked Ohio Superintendent Probe

By
Michael Locklear

Dateline
Updated Thu, Aug 2, 2012 6:17 pm

State Rep. Debbie Phillips of Athens says her main concern has been the use of public funds after she lodged a complaint against Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner.

A year-long investigation by the Inspector General turned up evidence of wrongdoing.

Phillips says lawmakers have to keep track of where the money's going.

"This budget that passed included in it the potential for millions of additional state dollars to be spent on testing, and when I found that Mr. Heffner had accepted a job with the company that administered those tests, it just raised serious questions in my mind," Phillip said.

The report says Superintendent Heffner was "in support of a bill that could and ultimately did benefit a corporation with which he had entered into an agreement of employment."

Heffner had signed a job offer with Educational Testing Service.

The report concludes he "failed to meet the standards of proper governmental conduct."

In a statement, the superintendent says he "accept(s) the findings of the Inspector General's report."

Heffner goes on to say he was wrong and apologizes for his lack of judgment.

Rep. Phillips says everyone in public service has a responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards.

"I think that there's a real lack of trust in public officials," she said, "and it's incumbent upon all of us to conduct ourselves appropriately and help to restore and maintain trust in our local organizations and state agencies and I take that very seriously, and I hope that other public officials will too."

The President of the State Board of Education says she is "disturbed" by the report's findings, and the Board will decide "if there are any implications that must be considered and acted upon" at its next meeting in September.

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