State: Local school district named in probe

Northridge was the only Miami Valley school district in a statewide investigation found to have improperly removed students from its attendance rolls, according to a final report released Monday by Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost.

Seven Miami Valley districts were cleared of any data tampering through an interim audit released in October. The final audit shows records were examined in 13 local districts and no scrubbing was detected at Hamilton City Schools, previously reported as under investigation.

According to the final audit, Northridge officials did not have documentation to explain transfers, expulsions and other breaks in enrollment for 43 students at Northridge High School and 16 students at Esther Dennis Middle School.

Nineteen of the records cited at Northridge High School had withdrawal forms on file, with notes to reenroll those students. Twenty-three of the 59 total exceptions were coded as being withdrawn to homeschooling.

The Montgomery County Educational Service Center needs to approve all homeschooling requests, but none of those 23 reportedly made it on the approval list and were entered retroactively.

Superintendent Dave Jackson said he has freely given the auditor access to district files, and there was no attempt made to hide information. Jackson said in a statement Monday he was concerned with the auditor’s findings.

“We will take the information in his final report seriously, and are awaiting the specific details regarding the exceptions that have been identified,” Jackson said. “Once this information is received, we will be better able to evaluate our practices and to modify those practices in order to eliminate errors in the future.”

Yost said more than 260 auditors spent 10,807 billable hours investigating possible scrubbing in a sample of the state’s schools at a cost of $443,000. Yost said the audit looked at 331 individual schools in 137 districts and most Ohio schools are following the rules.

“If [the rules] were that ambiguous, if they were that hard to figure out, I would have expected many many more errors and more schools that showed up in that scrubbing category,” Yost said.

Yost said the vast majority of Ohio schools followed the rules and doesn’t think state law and policy is unclear, but there were warning signs that could have been checked by the Ohio Department of Education. Yost recommended the state collect attendance data continually throughout the year, instead of during one week in October, to discourage tampering with data.

Yost forwarded the report to the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General. He said no referrals to county prosecutors have been made, but the investigation uncovered actions that warrant disciplinary action.

The audit did not make conclusions about motivation behind enrollment changes, which might have caused gains on school district report cards and other accountability measures.

The investigation found nine districts statewide manipulated attendance data: Campbell schools in Mahoning County, Canton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Marion, Northridge, Toledo and Winton Woods schools in Hamilton County.

The Hamilton City School District was found to have no evidence of scrubbing of attendance data.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Student of the Week Shawnee High School
Student of the Week Shawnee High School

Name: Tyra Huxley School: Shawnee High School Grade: 12 Age: 17 Extra-curricular: National Honor Society, Volleyball, Prom and Homecoming Committees, Student Council, Track, Summer Internship Program - currently an intern at Yamada N.A. Claim to fame/honors: Becoming President of Shawnee’s National Honor Society Words you live by: “If you&rsquo...
TODAY’S MODERATOR: A new kind of 911

The abuse of 911 services has been much-covered, especially so-called “frequent flyers” who more or less use the calls as their primary health care. In many cities, costs are out of hand. According to The Atlantic, Memphis is trying a new approach. “Since April, the city has been engaged in an experiment to take some pressure off...
Athlete of the Week Shawnee High School
Athlete of the Week Shawnee High School

Name: Grant Engle School: Shawnee High School Grade: 12 Age: 17 Sports: Boys Golf Claim to fame/honors: 8th in the State Tournament, 3-time CBC Player of the Year Words you live by: “All of your dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them.” Toughest opponent: My brother, Clark Engle Biggest influence: My mom and dad What&rsquo...
A Lighter Look: Anticipating the joys of grandmotherhood

I was talking with my friend whose daughter was expecting her first child any day. With the new world of grandparenthood looming, she was anxious with excitement. Her words betrayed varying emotions, which we all know can take hold any time while feeling the angst of the unknown. I appreciated her honesty as she wondered, “Will my daughter still...
Neighbor amazed to see group of teens cleaning up neighborhood
Neighbor amazed to see group of teens cleaning up neighborhood

When a man learned why a group of Georgia youth were cleaning up their neighborhood, he started recording. Al Grant, of Taylor County, is praising 14 young men for taking initiative and doing good for the community. When Grant asked the young men who made them come out and clean, they responded in unison, nobody." "We aren't in trouble,"...
More Stories