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Ohio prosecutor probes Kasich school critic

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) — A southwest Ohio prosecutor is investigating a school superintendent for possible misuse of public resources for political campaigning.

Franklin City Schools Superintendent Arnol Elam wrote a letter to parents this week urging them to join "an active 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.

Warren County prosecutor David Fornshell said Elam might have crossed a legal line by using school resources for campaign purposes. A message was left Friday for the prosecutor's office seeking more details.

Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern on Friday called the GOP prosecutor's investigation "a politically motivated witch hunt."

Elam told the Dayton Daily News his purpose was informative, not political.

"It was not my intent to break the law," Elam said. "It was my intent to inform our citizens of the gravity of the governor's budget on education." When Kasich unveiled his plan earlier this month, he said it would address inequities in Ohio's school funding formula, giving more help and opportunities to poor and special-needs students. But subsequent budget projections broken down by district have caused some superintendents in districts in Appalachian Ohio and other lower-income areas such as Franklin to question the governor's description of the plan.

Elam said Franklin, just north of Middletown along Interstate 75 in southwest Ohio, wouldn't get any additional funding under the plan, while Warren County's three wealthiest districts — Kings, Mason and Springboro — get increases.

"Frankly, this is both unfair and unbelievable," Elam wrote to parents of the district's nearly 3,000 students, saying the governor's plan "gives to the rich."

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Franklin schools would maintain current funding while benefiting from reduced bureaucracy under the new education plan, and could receive new funds from the $300 million program the governor has introduced to reward schools for innovation and efficiency. He declined comment on the investigation.

But Redfern said: "It sends a disturbing message to the people of Ohio that Kasich's friends might abuse government resources to punish this superintendent who is simply standing up for local school funding that the governor has stripped away."

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