Prince George's school board to wait for audit before acting on Hornsby

April 22, 2005|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

After being briefed by its attorney, the Prince George's County school board decided last night not to take any action involving schools CEO Andre J. Hornsby, whose dealings with education vendors are under federal investigation.

The board was meeting behind closed doors to learn more about the surprise visit paid to school system offices Tuesday by FBI agents. Board members had said earlier in the week that they wanted to learn more about what materials were taken and the scope of the federal inquiry before deciding whether to take action such as placing Hornsby on paid leave.

After last night's meeting, board Vice Chairman Howard W. Stone Jr. said members don't know enough yet and will await the outcome of an audit they commissioned. The audit is due in a few weeks.

The federal investigation of Hornsby's dealings with vendors was launched last fall, but board members say that until this week's seizure of materials, they had not seen evidence that the investigation was progressing.

Although it is unclear how broad the scope of the investigation is, it was initiated after reports in The Sun of Hornsby's approval of a $1 million purchase from a company, LeapFrog SchoolHouse, that employed his live-in girlfriend, Sienna Owens, as a saleswoman.

Hornsby has said that Owens had nothing to do with his approving the deal and that as far as he knows she did not benefit from it. Owens has said she did not have anything to do with the purchase, and another saleswoman who was officially assigned to the deal says she received the full commission for it, estimated at $40,000.

Both saleswomen left the company in December after a company inquiry into the commission. The company's president also left after that inquiry.

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