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SLPS board orders internal investigation of attendance figures

The appointed board overseeing the St. Louis Public Schools has directed its superintendent, Kelvin Adams, to conduct his own investigation into reports that some district employees falsified attendance records.

Auditor Tom Schweich on Monday launched his first rapid-response audit and issued subpoenas for the district's attendance records after receiving reports that the district falsified attendance numbers to get more state aid and to meet certain federal education requirements. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch later identified the school in questionas Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, located a half-mile from district headquarters.

Rick Sullivan, the president of the Special Administrative Board, released the following statement:

"I have extreme confidence in the State Auditor and his staff to conduct their investigation with the highest level of professionalism. This action provides the District with the opportunity to work with the State Auditor and his staff to review our practices and improve where appropriate. It is important that the District's data is credible to preserve our integrity in the eyes of the St. Louis community. We have instructed Dr. Adams to work collaboratively with the State Auditor. This will be resolved quickly so that we can focus on our priorities of academic achievement and acting in the best interest of children."

Superintendent Adams says the district is cooperating fully with Schweich, and praised the auditor for his professionalism.

The internal investigation is expected to be finished by May 26, the date of the next board meeting. The board that night may also vote on the budget for the next school year.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.