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D.A. clears former superintendent of criminal allegations


Emily Jerman March 7th, 2008

Former Oklahoma City Superintendent John Q. Porter came out clean in an investigation into allegations of potentially criminal misconduct made against him earlier this year, per a report released toda...

John-Q-Porter-SC64

Former Oklahoma City Superintendent John Q. Porter came out clean in an investigation into allegations of potentially criminal misconduct made against him earlier this year, per a report released today.

District Attorney David Prater and the Oklahoma City Police Department jointly looked into 15 of 21 allegations against Porter made public in January as part of an Oklahoma City Public Schools board investigation.

On all counts they investigated, "We found that John Q. Porter was not involved in any criminal activity," Prater said during a 2:30 p.m. press conference at his office.

In response to the findings, Oklahoma City Public Schools issued a statement that the allegations against Porter are "in the past," and that "the current leadership is moving ahead."

"The current administration is working to review the existing policies and procedures," the statement read, "and will make the necessary changes to ensure the district is being judicious and accountable to the taxpayers and shareholders of OKCPS."

INVESTIGATION FINDINGS
The district attorney's office/police investigation dealt with allegations suggesting possible criminal conduct, not personal matters. Of those claims of action potentially criminal in nature, key had been an allegation that Porter directed for board approval the $365,593.90 expansion of a wireless reading program without seeking competitive bids.

According to the report, Porter had staff look into whether there were comparable tools elsewhere. Investigators determined the state of Oklahoma considered the Wireless Generation product to be the only of its kind, making seeking other bids unnecessary.

Among others, the investigation also found no basis for criminal activity pertaining to:

" allegations that Porter directed money from a district activity fund be used to reimburse non-board-approved activities that had no public purpose.

" allegations that he sought and received reimbursement for three round-trip, first-class flights that were not business-related, as well as one for his wife. (Porter received full-cost coach tickets, which were upgradeable at no charge, according to the findings. Investigators determined his reimbursement for his wife's flight was likely an honest mistake.)

" allegations Porter was reimbursed for apparent alcohol purchases. (The investigation found $41 in alcohol purchases had been reimbursed to Porter, which he told investigators he paid back to the district in a $5,000 sum that was part of his January settlement with the district. Prater said had Porter not paid the $5,000, the investigation's findings probably wouldn't have changed.)

" allegations that Porter asked a district employee to perform personal work on district time. (A district staffer volunteered to do these jobs, and said he had done similar things for previous superintendents, according to the investigation.)

THE PROCESS
Prater said his office intended to look into the complaints against Porter ever since they arose because they concerned possible "misappropriation of public funds," but a request for an investigation by school board member Joe Clytus spurred the process.

The investigation required six weeks' worth of information gathering, which Prater said he believed exhausted all possible leads. The district attorney said he hoped the release of the findings would mark the end of the ordeal.

"I think this city needs to heal," he said. "It was quite a divisive issue when it came to light. "¦ If this is the end of it, I'd be very happy."

Porter and the district settled Jan. 23. He and school board Chairman Cliff Hudson stepped down as part of that agreement. -Emily Jerman

 
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