News
7:52 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Yost To Release CCS Data Scrubbing Investigative Report Today

Later this morning, State Auditor David Yost is scheduled to release the findings of his 18-month investigation into attendance data fixing in the Columbus City Schools.

Alison Holm has this recap of how the investigation developed.

According to the Columbus City Schools, it was then-Superintendent Gene Harris who in 2011 began to talk with internal auditor Carolyn Smith about attendance records that had been changed.  And that it was Harris who later that school year requested State auditor David Yost investigate allegations that some school principals or district officials were manipulating data to make individual schools look better on annual performance reports.  But the first most people heard about what became known as the data-scrubbing scandal came later that summer, when the Columbus Dispatch launched a series of articles that documented how officials had systematically un-enrolled and then re-enrolled chronically absent students, making the district attendance figures look better than they were.  As other districts including Toledo and the Lockland Schools in suburban Cincinnati came forward with similar disclosures, State Auditor David Yost announced he was launching an investigation into attendance scrubbing in schools across the state. In September, 2012, Harris announced her intention to resign at the end of the school year and she cautioned that it was too soon to conclude whether there had been any manipulation of data in the district.
 

Harris-1…………..results are  :15
 

But in a preliminary report issued the following month, Auditor Yost was fairly clear about what he was uncovering in Columbus.
 

Yost-1……….documention  :10
 

As the investigation widened to include charges that changes had been made to grades as well, the FBI launched its own investigation, and Yost hinted that criminal charges might be brought against district officials.  At the same time, he complained that district officials were obstructing his investigation.  Auditors chief legal counsel, William Owen:
 

Owen………..cause for concern  :14
 

In May 2013, Columbus police and auditor’s officials seized records from 20 Columbus schools.  Although the resounding defeat of the district’s fall school levy request was blamed in part on the on-going investigation, neither district officials nor the auditor’s office discussed the investigation in public.  In January, when school board member Gary Baker was tapped by the board to take over the presidency, he took the opportunity to make a public apology.
 

Baker…………this regard  :14
 

State Auditor Yost presented his findings ot the board nearly two weeks ago, and they have responded privately.  Although Yost has hinted throughout the investigation that some district employees could face criminal charges, he says that filing those charges are up to state or federal officials.  Following the Auditor’s press conference this morning