Ohio's Schools' Chief Under Fire For Alleged Ethics Violations
10 Investigates has learned Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner may have violated state laws in connection with a private employer who hired him and does business with the state of Ohio.
An Ohio Inspector General Report released by that office this morning says Heffner testified before the state legislature on behalf of his private employer while he was employed by Ohio as the "interim superintendent" in July 2011. Heffner did not disclose his employment during the testimony, according to the report.
The Inspector General also reports Heffner misused state resources in an effort to secure employment with the same company, Educational Testing Services (ETS).
Heffner accepted a job with ETS but later withdrew after he was appointed to the full time position of State Superintendent.
The Inspector General's report confirms the findings of 10 Investigates. Our investigation revealed a state lawmaker complained last summer about the possible conflict of interest.
State Representative Debbie Phillips, (D), said she was concerned that Heffner was "speaking on behalf of a proposal that could benefit his (ETS) employer." Phillips filed an official complaint with the Inspector General.
10 Investigates also uncovered documents that showed Heffner using state email accounts to line up meetings with ETS in the fall of 2010. ETS offered Heffner an employment position in April of 2010, according to the Inspector General's report.
In June, former Ohio Department of Education spokesman Patrick Gallaway refused to comment about the ETS emails. "We are under no obligation," Gallaway said.
Heffner also used state cell phones and Ohio Department of Education employees to make arrangements to transition into his ETS job, the Inspector General's report says.
Heffner's former executive secretary told investigators she arranged personal flights for Heffner to South Dakota and Washington D.C., according to the report.
Another employee, Heffner's executive assistant, said that Heffner ordered her to coordinate ETS related flights. She also said Heffner required her to "organize" his personal documents involving his real estate transaction related to his transition to ETS, the report says.
"My only option was to do what he needed and try to do it well," the unnamed executive assistant said. "So he, you know, so he would keep me."
The Inspector General's report suggests Heffner's conduct may have violated two state laws and Ohio ethics guidelines.
“I accept the findings of the Inspector General’s report. I was wrong and I’m sorry for my lack of judgment. I’ve apologized to my staff, my friends and colleagues at the Department, and the Board,” Heffner said in a statement. “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.”
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