Many costs to attendance investigation

The farce that has become the investigation into the school attendance erasures gained a price tag yesterday

Ohio’s Auditor said on Monday that his staff has spent 7,000 hours and more than $140,000 on an investigating into whether Columbus City Schools officials manipulated attendance records.

That price tag is certain to climb as it became obvious that the investigation has barely begun

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost was hoping to wrap up his investigation into attendance rigging at schools statewide well before the November elections.

It looks like that won’t happen.

Many Ohioans will be asked to vote on school levies this fall, and schools worry that uncertainty surrounding accusations of falsified attendance data may hurt their chances at the polls. But state Auditor Yost says he may not complete his investigation until the new year.

You'll notice from the articles and TV pieces we have linked to here, words like "rigging" and "scandal" being thrown around, despite any widespread evidence to date that anything like that has happened. This is a problem when one considers the number of school that are a potential target of the Auditors investigation

Ohio officials looking into potential tampering with school attendance numbers are focusing on 100 schools around the state.

The state auditor’s office tells The Dayton Daily News that investigators are concentrating on schools that have raised concerns based on data that shows they had a high number of student withdrawals.

A great many of those schools are going to be found totally innocent of any kinds of untoward data manipulation, and as the Fordham Foundation points out, even the innocent are being harmed.

Less than one month ago...

Releasing Ohio’s school report cards this month simply wouldn’t be fair, the state’s education leaders have decided.

They'll vote on changing that decision today...

Releasing delayed state report cards on school progress won't hamper an investigation into potential tampering with school attendance numbers, Ohio's state auditor told education leaders Monday.

Time the knee-jerk decision making ended, and some calm contemplation began.

Erasure scandal now a farce

The controversy over school attendance erasures started out life with questionable reporting, layered with supposition and innuendo and is now descending into farce.

Unable to perform their own investigation after years of oversight failure, ODE passed the investigation over to the State Auditor. Now the State Auditor is having to fire his own investigative staff.

State Auditor Dave Yost warned Columbus schools leaders a month ago that contacting the district’s internal auditor as she investigates claims of data rigging could have serious consequences.

Yesterday, a member of Yost’s own staff resigned after he failed to take his boss’s advice. John Davis, who also volunteers as a member of the school district’s audit committee, urged the school district’s internal auditor, Carolyn Smith, to speak with an attorney for the school board who has been meeting with district officials to ask about data rigging.

This comes just days after William Zelei, Associate Superintendent of Accountability and Quality Schools at ODE, submitted his letter of resignation.

It seems more heads are rolling among the investigators than the investigated. The one person from a district that has been fired, the Superintendent of Lockland, is now filing a law suit

Former Lockland Schools Superintendent Donna Hubbard and her son, Adam Stewart, Wednesday sued to keep their jobs, alleging the school board last week violated Ohio’s Open Meetings laws.

The lawsuits are the latest salvo in a battle between Hubbard and Lockland, one of the smallest school districts in Ohio with about 700 students.

The school board Aug. 23 voted 3-to-1 to begin the termination process for Hubbard after a state investigation found she and Stewart, the district’s database coordinator, falsely listed 37 habitually truant students as withdrawn from the district.

This entire scandal has nothing to do with educating students, it has everything to do with corporate education reform policies that require increasing large amounts of data with which to slice and dice. Not one bit of any of this will have any impact on what is going on in thousands of classrooms across Ohio right now - but it sure makes good theater.