Columbus – Auditor of State Dave Yost has directed auditors to review how the Ohio Department of Education handles disciplinary complaints following an internal review showing more than half of those people identified in a 2012 Columbus City Schools data scrubbing scandal had not been disciplined.
“We were assured by the previous administration at the Ohio Department of Education that this would be acted upon in reasonable period of time,” Auditor Yost said. “We’re at least a year beyond a reasonable time in my opinion.”
In 2014, investigators of the Auditor of State’s office sent ODE a list of 64 individuals who appeared to have participated in data scrubbing in the state’s largest school district. Based on information published on ODE’s website:
• 13 educators faced disciplinary actions, often as part of consent agreements
• 13 educators allowed their licenses to expire
• 1 educator died
• 32 educators were not disciplined
• It is unclear whether 5 educators faced any discipline
“It is frustrating to see this taking so long,” Auditor Yost said. “Due process is not the same as overdue process. This is an important public policy question because citizens need to have confidence that anyone who should be removed from the classroom is no longer licensed to be an educator in Ohio.”
Auditors will examine all aspects of ODE’s disciplinary process, ranging from the processes used to review complaints, to the length of time involved and the outcomes.
A special audit released in January 2014 revealed a top-down culture of data manipulation and employee intimidation at the Columbus City School District.
Auditors and investigators reviewed information for the period of July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011. Overall, the special audit found a troubling lack of documentation and records, inconsistently followed business rules, and unacceptably high data error rates. Auditors determined a widespread process of withdrawing and re-enrolling students with poor attendance and poor OGT test scores was in place, directed by district administrators. In doing so, the withdrawn and re-enrolled students’ test scores would be “rolled up” to the state and not be included in the district’s report card score.
The review of Columbus schools led the Auditor of State to conduct a statewide review of data scrubbing. That review found a total of nine school districts in Ohio had improperly withdrawn students from their enrollment in order to improve their ratings.