Northland News

CCS treasurer resigns; will stay on through June 30

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As Columbus City Schools tries to gain its footing amid a messy data-scrubbing scandal, another administrator is calling it quits.

Penny Rucker, who will mark her fifth anniversary as the district's treasurer in April, said she is resigning effective June 30.

"You just know when it's time to go," said Rucker, 49. "There's never a good time."

Board President Gary L. Baker II praised Rucker for her dedication.

"Treasurer Rucker has given her decision great consideration," Baker said in a prepared statement. "She said that she felt this was a good time for a change, and she wanted to give the board as much notice as possible in order to find her replacement."

Rucker, who is leaving with three years left on her $145,000-a-year contract, said her departure has nothing to do with the scandal, in which administrators, teachers and staff are accused of altering student attendance and grade data to boost the district's performance on state report cards. She pointed to state Auditor Dave Yost's recent report, which put the blame on the academic -- not financial -- side.

"Because it wasn't a financial issue, it didn't have much of an impact on me," she said.

Still, the pressure on the superintendent, board and the administration "impacts the culture" in the district, she said.

"I definitely have a lot of empathy for what they're going through," she said. "It's just a hard environment. When you're trying to run the largest district in the state and when you've got a lot of turbulence, it's hard."

The scandal has ensnared several top-level administrators, some of whom have already left the district. Two weeks ago, the district put four high school principals on administrative leave pending their termination.

Criminal charges could be pursued.

Rucker, who said she wants to spent more time with family, said she also plans to find work elsewhere but wouldn't speculate on where, other than revealing her future duties likely would include working as a private consultant.

"I've got several things in the works but I'm not ready to go public with it," she said.

A London, Ohio, resident, she has worked locally for Upper Arlington City Schools, the state Auditor's Office, Ohio State University, London City Schools and Springfield City Schools. She founded Rucker Consulting before working with CCS.

Jeff Warner, spokesman for the district, said the board has not posted the position but plans to launch a national search in the near future.

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