Auditor concludes school attendance scrubbing investigation - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Auditor concludes school attendance scrubbing investigation

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Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost released the results of his attendance scrubbing investigation on Monday.

The final phase found evidence at an additional four school districts of padding stats which boosts performance report cards.

Toledo Public Schools is one of the districts on the list which unenrolled students who never actually left. The auditor isn't saying the district acted illegally.

"This report is very important," says Yost. "It goes to some foundational things about how our schools run in Ohio."

Yost says the final phase of the seven month investigation brings the total number of school districts with evidence of attendance scrubbing to nine.

"The good news is that most of the school districts in Ohio are playing by the rules. They're clean, they're doing it right," says Yost.

Districts which unenrolled or removed poor-performing students from the rolls are Toledo Public Schools, Cleveland, Columbus, Marion, Campbell, Canton, Cincinnati, Northridge, and Winton Woods.

"My conclusion is that they knew better and for whatever reason they chose not to comply," says Yost.

Manipulating attendance data can improve district report card performance ratings and impact funding.

"This is concentrated in larger urban districts, but there's a lot of error here," says Stephane Lavertu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University John Glenn School of Public Affairs. "There are small districts who have appeared to engage in this and there are large districts, so it's hard to generalize."

The auditor is not recommending criminal charges, but that's not to say that won't happen.

The data is next being sent to the US Department of Education and the Office of Inspector General for review. Those offices will be working with US Attorneys.

"Toledo self-reported early in this process," says Yost. "And the facts are a little bit different on the ground in Toledo than they were elsewhere. What the Inspector General concludes at the US Department of Education, I can't really predict."

In the meantime, the auditor is recommending the state make changes to school funding to enhance attendance accountability.

One is to eliminate the single count week in October.

"What we're suggesting is that money follow the kids more or less in real time so that each day there is an incentive to keep the child in school," says Yost.

A separate investigation is ongoing for Columbus Public Schools involving state and federal authorities because the auditor says evidence there also suggests grades were changed.

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