Last week the state auditor’s office announced it will investigate the Ohio Department of Education to see if it was involved in attendance rigging at Ohio schools.
Now, the Inspector General has logged an ethics violation against the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Last year, then interim-superintendent Stan Heffner testified before Ohio lawmakers in support of a bill that would increase teacher testing. That bill could have directly benefited one of the nation’s largest for-profit testing companies: the Educational Testing Service.
Heffner had already signed a contract with Educational Testing Service to go work for them in Texas.
“This is a huge deal, any time you betray public trust,” says Randall Meyer, Ohio’s Inspector General. “He knew he was seeking employment with ETS; he knew ETS was at least in the market to get some of the testing for the state of Ohio. They’re one of the two largest testing firms in the country. He should have used some common sense in this and thought, ‘I may have some problems giving this testimony.’”
Heffner ultimately decided to stay in Ohio and accept the full time state superintendent’s position, but Meyer says since Heffner thought he was taking the job with ETS when he gave the testimony, there was a conflict of interest.
The report also found that Heffner used public property for personal purposes, like communicating about that job with people at ETS. He also asked public employees to run personal errands for him as he prepared to move to Texas.
Heffner apologized in a statement, saying, “I have learned from my mistakes and I will work with the Board to take whatever steps they feel are necessary to resolve this matter and move forward.”
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar said in a statement that she is “disturbed” by the findings, and that Heffner showed a “woeful lack of judgment.”
Heffner has not resigned, but the Board is set to consider the report at its next meeting in September. It has 60 days to decide on any disciplinary action.
You can read the Inspector General’s findings here:
UPDATE: The Ohio Democratic Party is now calling for a criminal investigation of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner.