COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The man who headed the Columbus City Schools data reporting to the state has pleaded no contest to a felony charge of attempted tampering with government records.
Steve Tankovich, 65, accepted a plea deal in exchange for the no contest plea. A judge then found him guilty.
Tankovich set up the system that allowed several others in the state's largest school district to manipulate attendance data. Those manipulations improved the district's report card from the state which has an impact on funding. The allegations led to Tankovich's resignation in February 2013 after more than 40 years with Columbus City Schools.
The data tampering scheme involved withdrawing and then re-enrolling students who missed a high number of school days. Tankovich's attorney, Mark Collins, explained that his client didn't think it was fair for the district to be held accountable for students that didn't come to school.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said that as part of the plea deal, Tankovich will cooperate with investigators and testify against others involved in the scandal.
"Now, the shoes are going to drop like balloons at a convention hall," Auditor of State Dave Yost said. Yost's office was called in to see if other schools in the state were involved in similar practices. He found a total of nine districts had altered attendance data.
Tankovich will likely avoid jail and be sentenced to probation when he comes back before a judge on Oct. 16. The former school data czar has no criminal record and didn't steal any public money. He was released on a $5,000 recognizance bond.