The former Columbus City Schools superintendent pleaded no contest, and was sentenced to one year of probation, and community service in connection with the district’s attendance data scrubbing scandal.
Gene Harris entered the plea to a misdemeanor charge of dereliction of duty Wednesday before a judge in Franklin County Municipal Court.
Harris, 61, was sentenced to probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $750 fine. She was also ordered to surrender her teaching and superintendent certificates.
At issue are allegations that administrators changed attendance numbers over several years to manipulate schools’ performance ratings in the state’s largest district.
The charge against Harris doesn’t imply she participated in the number changing, only that she presided over a district in which dozens of administrators who worked for her did, and she failed to stop it.
Harris has always said she didn’t know anything about the data manipulation.
Harris’ attorney said her client did not direct, participate, or order any type of scheme to alter attendance records or grades.
She said that when Harris became aware of the issues, she contacted the state auditor’s office to ask for help. She said Harris was eventually waiting for an internal auditor with the schools to complete an investigation before taking action.
Harris had supporters with her in court Thursday, including her pastor and a former student.