Prince George's board briefed on Hornsby audit

June 05, 2005|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

The Prince George's County school board was briefed behind closed doors yesterday morning on the results of a six-month audit it commissioned into dealings involving education vendors and the district's former chief, who resigned last weekend.

The former superintendent, Andre J. Hornsby, has 48 hours to respond to the audit under an agreement reached between him and the board at the time of his resignation, which also included a $125,000 severance payment. The board is then expected to make the report public tomorrow afternoon.

Board member Abby Crowley declined yesterday afternoon to discuss the details of the briefing but said that the auditor, Chicago-based Huron Consulting, had been thorough in scrutinizing Hornsby's dealings with vendors. She said the report was about 50 pages.

"They did a magnificent job," she said. "We hired them to gather facts, and their level of expertise doing that is quite astounding."

The board paid Huron an estimated $100,000 to look into, among other things, Hornsby's purchase a year ago of $1 million in early literacy technology from the software company LeapFrog SchoolHouse.

The Sun reported in October that Hornsby did not disclose at the time of the purchase that he was living with a LeapFrog saleswoman. The saleswoman and the president of the company left LeapFrog in December after a company inquiry into what happened with the $40,000 commission paid on the deal, which was supposed to have gone to another saleswoman.

The school board cleared Hornsby of any wrongdoing in November but decided to hire the auditor after the LeapFrog president's resignation. The FBI is still investigating Hornsby's dealings with education vendors.

Crowley said yesterday that she was "not surprised" by what she heard in the auditor's briefing. She said she was also relieved that the board did not have to take action to seek Hornsby's removal based on the audit, since he decided to resign May 27.

"I'm very glad that we did [the audit]," she said. "It was worth every penny not just in terms of cleaning up a mess, but also going into the future and saying what can we learn from this. ... Not having to make that decision [about whether to fire Hornsby] has really freed up the board to look at the big picture."

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