A southwest Ohio prosecutor says a school superintendent is under investigation for possible misuse of public resources for political campaigning.
Franklin City Schools Superintendent Arnol Elam wrote a letter to parents urging them to join a campaign to make sure Gov. John Kasich and legislators supporting him aren't re-elected. Elam is among school officials in some of the state's poorer districts upset about the Republican governor's new school funding plan.
Elam says his district's state funding remains flat, while wealthier neighboring districts get more money.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell says Elam might have crossed a legal line by using school resources for campaign purposes. Elam was not available when we called for comment, but the district did send us a statement from the Board of Education saying they support Elam in his characterization of the Kasich plan.
"The Board of Education was extremely disappointed that it would see no increase in state funding given that the Governor publicly characterized his plan as being beneficial to poorer districts like ours."
The statement adds the Board of Education does not believe that any laws have been violated, but it wouldn't comment further because of the investigation.
Ohio's Democratic Party blasted the Republican prosecutor's move as intimidation.
"It kind of evokes the image of an enemies list," said ODP spokesman Jerid Kurtz. "If you have the audacity to stand up against the governor are you going to find yourself with a criminal prosecution against yourself? It's just scary."
Kurtz notes that Fornshell has donated hundreds of dollars to the Kasich campaign and was a former chairman of the Warren County Republican Party.
We asked Kurtz if the Ohio Democratic Party would be upset if a superintendent had sent a letter home to parents urging them to vote against President Obama's re-election.
"I think there's a big difference between being upset and launching a criminal investigation," he replied.
We called Fornshell's office and were told he is out of the office. An e-mail to the prosecutor bounced back saying he would be out of the office until Feb. 20.
In a statement, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the Franklin City Schools would be held harmless under their new formula and would not lose funding over the next two years.
"The district will also benefit from new freedoms from reduced bureaucracy and red tape and will have a chance to receive additional funds from the Straight A Fund - a $300 million program that will reward districts which develop innovative strategies to help their students improve their achievement levels and increase their operational efficiency. We look forward to continuing to work with superintendents from all across Ohio to improve student achievement no matter where they live," Nichols wrote.