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WCPS Spent Almost $1.7 Million on Reading Program Now Under Investigation

During Harvey Franklin's tenure with Walton County Public Schools, the system spent $1.675 million on the EDNA reading system. Now EDNA's founder and Franklin are under a federal investigation.

officials confirmed that they had been approached by federal investigators to give information about the "Early Detection, Necessary Action," or EDNA, reading program used at one time in the school system. The program had been introduced by former WCPS Assistant Superintendent Harvey Franklin. According to a report in Southern Education Desk, he and and the founder of the program, Edna Goble, of Conyers, are now the subject of a federal investigation in Mississippi in connection with the program. Franklin reportedly took the reading program with him when he left Georgia to take up the postion of superintendent with the Greenville Public School System.

Kim Embry, spokesperson for WCPS, confirmed that during Franklin's tenure with WCPS, a total of $1,675,433.60 was spent on the program.

"WCPS used the EDNA reading program in Title I elementary schools from 2002 to 2009 as a tool to improve reading comprehension," Embry said. "In the 2009-2010 school year the program was cut from the budget as a cost saving measure because the curriculum department and schools using the program felt that the money could be better used elsewhere during lean budget times."

Embry said the school district was contacted earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Education‘s Office of Inspector General with a request that the system provide information about the EDNA reading program, including materials and services which the school system had received as part of the program. She said they were not requested to provide any specific information on Franklin.

According to Southern Education Desk, when Franklin took up the position of superintendent with The Greenville Public School system in 2009, he introduced the EDNA program, claiming he had seen it work in Georgia. The Greenville Public School System went on to invest $1.5 million in the program. School officials in Greenville are reporting that federal and state investigators are now looking into whether Franklin took a cut.

The Associated Press reported that Goble is not commenting on the investigation or her relationship with Franklin. Mississippi state auditors reportedly have information showing some supplies and training were never provided or were inadequate. Goble is standing by the effectiveness of the program. Investigators, however, say it did little to improve failing reading scores. Embry provided the following breakdown, by year, of the EDNA invoices paid by WCPS.

School Year                                 Total Expenditure

2002-2003                                       $48,480.00

2003-2004                                     $148,462.55

2004-2005                                     $132,127.00

2005-2006                                     $178,835.00

2006-2007                                     $322,945.05

2007-2008                                     $412,553.00

2008-2009                                     $327,928.00

2009-2010                                     $104,103.00   services ended in July of 2009

Total:                                            $1,675,433.60

It is reported that since the investigation by federal agents began, nobody has seen Franklin.

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