Ex-Columbus schools chief pleads no contest to dereliction of duty plea over data scandal

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FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2012, file photo, Columbus City Schools Superintendent Gene Harris announces her retirement at a news conference held at the King Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said Harris, the former Columbus city schools superintendent, will be charged with dereliction of duty in connection with the district's attendance data-scrubbing scandal. O'Brien said he plans to file the charge later Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, and confirms that Harris will enter a no-contest plea. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Eric Albrecht, File)


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The former Columbus schools superintendent has pleaded no contest to a charge of dereliction of duty in connection with the district's attendance data-scrubbing scandal.

Gene Harris entered the plea Wednesday in Franklin County Municipal Court. A judge sentenced the 61-year-old Harris to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service. She had faced 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

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 working for her did, and she failed to stop it.

Harris has maintained she didn't know anything about the data manipulation.

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