DA: Porter will not face criminal charges

Thursday, March 6th 2008, 2:43 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

An Oklahoma County District Attorney's report about the investigation of former Superintendent John Q. Porter states Porter did not commit a crime.

Porter and School Board Chairman Cliff Hudson stepped down in January. They both agreed to do so after a report from the district's lawyer listed 21 allegations of wrongdoing against Porter.

That report led to a criminal investigation from Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater's office. Oklahoma City Police have also been researching the allegations for the past month and a half. 

The investigation led to report is nearly 300 pages long.

The bottom line, former Superintendent John Porter did not commit a crime. 

District Attorney David Prater said Porter was not involved in any criminal activity. He made that decision after reviewing this lengthy investigative report.

"We found the truth, this was a search for the truth, we were seeking to find out what the truth was; when I found out there was no criminal activity involved, I was pleased," Prater said.

Investigators examined 15 of the allegations in the school district lawyer's original report which led to Porter's resignation. Through documents from the district and interviews with people involved, the investigators discovered some of the allegations are not substantiated at all.

"We were able to very easily obtain documents that seemed to be exculpatory in nature and explain away certain allegations, that did surprise me," Prater said.

Porter was accused with purchasing a first-class plane ticket on the district's dime, but the investigation found Porter had upgraded his economy seat to first-class seat for free.

Another allegation claimed Porter awarded a $365,000 reading program contract without seeking competitive bids. However, the investigation proved the company was the only company offering that particular type of product and the state does not require bids.

So does Prater believe the allegations are enough for a superintendent to lose his job?

"That's for the citizens of the school district to determine and I think based upon what you'll provide them in your news reports, they'll make that determination quite clearly," Prater said.

As for John Porter, his lawyer, Steve Huddleston, said this is a good day for him.

"He's very pleased," Huddleston said. "He wants to thank the district attorney for giving him this opportunity. It's a good opportunity for him because it puts all of this speculation behind him."

Porter did pay $5,000 back to the district for any questionable reimbursements.

The district's original list of allegations said Porter was abusive to district employees and had a negative relationship with principals. In the DA's report, during interviews, the district's CFO said he approved Porter's reimbursement requests, even if they were questionable, for fear he'd be fired.

Another who worked for the district for over 42 years quit, saying Porter was rude and confrontational.

Moments after the DA released its report, Oklahoma City public schools responded.

While the district didn't admit to making any mistakes, they did say the whole incident is regrettable.

Oklahoma City Public School Spokesperson Kathleen Kennedy said the district is reviewing the procedures used to reimburse district employees for out of pocket expenses, as well as all the matter leading up to Dr. Porter's suspension and resignation.

"If they need revising we will address that and make those changes and go forward to help ensure that we are being accountable to the tax payers and our stake holders here in Oklahoma City," Kennedy said.

The DA's investigation report is about 300 pages long. The full report is available in PDF format here. Note: The report is 13 MB and could take a while to download.