Federal authorities are investigating the former Superintendent of the Greenville Public School District for fraud.

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Greenville Reading Program Prompts Fed Scrutiny

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 18 Jun 2012 11:01am | comments
The former Greenville superintendent is being investigated for possible fraud involving an elementary reading program. Photo by Annie GIlbertson.

Federal authorities are investigating the former Superintendent of the Greenville Public School District. Harvey Franklin resigned suddenly last month, weeks before school let out. MPB's Southern Education Reporter, Annie Gilbertson, reports the former superintendent is alleged to have made money selling a district-wide reading program to the Greenville school board.

When Harvey Franklin moved from Georgia to Mississippi to serve as Superintendent of the Greenville Public School District, he brought with him a reading program.

Hafter: “The idea was, it would be influx of reading material, and the children would get enhanced instruction.”

That’s Jerry Hafter of the Greenville school board. He says when former Superintendent Franklin presented the idea, it seemed sound - teach kids to read by giving them variety of handouts with text excerpts. The program was called "Early Detection, Necessary Action" or EDNA, and claimed to raise students ability by three grade levels in just one year.

Derrick Simmons, also sat on the board in 2009 when the program was presented. Simmons says he was skeptical of grand promises, but says Franklin claimed he'd seen it work back home in Georgia.

Simmons: “And really you try to support your superintendent when your superintendent suggests or proposes ways of helping improve the district, you know?”

The board agreed to spend 1.5 million dollars on EDNA. According to school officials, federal and state investigators are now looking into if Superintendent Franklin took a cut, although the Department of Justice would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Back in Georgia, EDNA's developer, Edna Goble wouldn't comment on the investigation or her relationship with Franklin. The Associated Press reported the Mississippi state auditors have "information showing that some of the supplies and training were never provided or were inadequate." Still, Goble says she stands by the effectiveness of the program.

Goble: “The seven schools went from schools of failure to low performing schools.”

But according to Mississippi testing data, district-wide elementary reading scores improved only a few percentage points with most students still falling below proficiency.

Greenville school board members and administration say investigators are taking into account assessment data, interviewing personnel and reviewing financial records. And since the feds have stepped in, they add, no one has seen Superintendent Franklin.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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The former Greenville superintendent is being investigated for possible fraud involving an elementary reading program. Photo by Annie GIlbertson.


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