State school board president withholding some documents from auditor

From The Columbus Dispatch State Board of Education President Tom Gunlock has refused to release internal communications requested by state Auditor Dave Yost for his annual audit and probe into the Ohio Education Department’s rigging of charter-school evaluations.

In a letter, Gunlock told Yost that communications between department attorneys and employees regarding the evaluations are protected under attorney-client privilege.

“I believe that you can make the determination of whether ODE followed the sponsor-evaluation law for those first five sponsor evaluations without having to violate ODE’s attorney-client privilege,” Gunlock wrote.

Gunlock, a board member from Centerville appointed by Gov. John Kasich, also assured Yost “that ODE would continue to cooperate with your office to facilitate completion of this audit.”

Gunlock noted that he was personally responding to a letter that Yost had sent him, and he had not asked others on the 19-member board, which meets later this month, to weigh in. Other members had been copied on Yost’s letter.

Yost spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said the auditor hopes the full board will reconsider Gunlock’s decision. She noted that Columbus schools waived attorney-client privilege to release documents to Yost during his investigation into student-data tampering in the district.

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