Columbus schools official pleads in data case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former top data official for Columbus city schools has pleaded no contest to attempted tampering with government records, the first criminal charge in an attendance scrubbing scandal at the state's largest district.

Investigators say Stephen Tankovich, ex-executive director of the Office of Accountability Systems, created a system used by Columbus school officials to alter students' attendance records to improve performance ratings.

Tankovich entered the no-contest plea Thursday in Franklin County court as part of a deal in which he'll avoid prison by cooperating with investigators.

The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1n6Ujbx ) that Tankovich's lawyer, Mark Collins, said Tankovich devised his system of withdrawing, then re-enrolling chronically absent children because he didn't feel the district should be held accountable for kids who missed a lot of school.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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