Eight weeks ago The Free Press filed a public records request with Columbus City Schools (CCS), related to legal fees. The following is what we have compiled based on the records submitted to The Free Press last week by CCS. The Board of Education has authorized $565,000 in legal fees to Porter Wright, and Porter Wright has submitted invoices totaling $672,171.03, which is $107,171.03 more than the amount authorized by the Board. Tellingly, there are three invoices from June 2013 that, based upon a vendor invoice list supplied by CCS, appear to not have been paid by CCS. Further, Porter Wright has not billed the District since June 28th. It appears there are invoices billed and outstanding that have not been paid because they would exceed the Board-authorized cap on expenditures (#1033911 for $340,202.94 portion, and #1033306 for $37,267.55 and $19,400.54). The final invoice dated June 27th and 28th, covers a period ending May 31, 2013, and it seems quite likely that there have been continuing legal expenses since June 1, 2013 that have not yet been invoiced. If the records submitted by CCS are complete and accurate with respect to Board authorizations, these facts raise questions of both control and transparency. Controls: What is wrong with CCS internal controls that allow a vendor to do work exceeding the amount of money authorized by the Board of Education, creating an unauthorized potential liability to the public? Transparency: Does the Board of Education know that expenses have exceeded the publicly-authorized amount, and has the Board refrained from raising its authorizations because it is in the middle of a levy campaign? -- is this another form of dishonesty with the public?

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