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Pickering subpoenas owner of Georgia-based education company

GREENVILLE — The Mississippi auditor’s has served a subpoena on the owner of a Georgia company that provides training and supplies to schools for a reading program.

Lisa Shoemaker, spokeswoman for Mississippi Auditor Stacey Pickering, said the subpoena seeks financial information and was served on Edna Goble, who owns Teach Them To Read in Conyers, Ga.,

The company does business with the Greenville Public School District in Mississippi. Shoemaker says the district spent $1.4 million with the company on training and supplies for kindergarten through third grade. The reading program is called EDNA, for Early Detection Necessary Action.

Shoemaker said the auditor’s office has information showing that some of the supplies and training were never provided or were inadequate.

Goble said in a telephone interview she has proof that everything for which she billed has been provided. She said she’s “dumbfounded” and blamed the investigation on politics and people protecting the status quo. She said the Greenville schools are in terrible shape and based on her testing, 80 percent of the children are two years behind the reading level at which they should be.

Mississippi Department of Education spokesman Pete Smith said he couldn’t verify the 80 percent figure Goble used, but he did say Greenville is a low-performing school district and all the schools but one, an elementary, are on academic watch or below. One elementary in the district is considered a failing school.

Goble said her program is meant to compliment the schools’ normal curriculum. She said people in Greenville could resent her because she pointed out that some students weren’t being given the proper tools and instruction they needed as part of the schools’ everyday curriculum.

“It was all provided. There’s lots of evidence that it was provided, every book, every day of training,” Goble said.

Goble said she’s been in business since 1989 and has worked with at least 200 schools and had never had a problem.

She gave an example that she once asked teacher to bring social studies books to training.

“The teachers looked at me like I was crazy and said, ‘We don’t have those books for every student,'” Goble said. “The ones that they did have were almost all out of date.”

Goble said she’s disappointed that the investigation was publicized before she’s had a chance to prove the she had provided everything for which she billed.

“I certainly would like to know who said I billed for a day of training that I wasn’t there for. A person for the county accompanied me for every day of training that I provided,” she said.

Shoemaker said the investigation was prompted by the concerns raised by the state Department of Education.

“This is in no way politics. We have a proven track record of investigating and presenting the facts in order to protect the taxpayers,” she said.

Shoemaker said the auditor’s office had four teams in Greenville interviewing the superintendent and other administrators, teachers and employees who have received either training or supplies.

She said the U.S. Department of Education’s office of inspector general assisted the auditor’s office in the issuing of the subpoena and the interviews conducted both in Conyers, and in Greenville. The Mississippi Department of Education provided information to the auditor’s office that led to this action, Shoemaker said.


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