Ohio state auditor dave yost releases school audit findings - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Auditor: Cincinnati, Winton Woods schools "scrubbed" attendance data

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  • Winton Woods reports attendance issues to state auditor

    Winton Woods reports attendance issues to state auditor

    Wednesday, February 13 2013 10:09 PM EST2013-02-14 03:09:38 GMT
    While researching EMIS data to prepare for a routine audit by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for the 2012-2013 school year, officials in Winton Woods City Schools discovered some irregularitiesMore >>
    While researching EMIS data to prepare for a routine audit by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for the 2012-2013 school year, officials in Winton Woods City Schools discovered some irregularities in the district's data and voluntarily reported them to ODE.More >>
COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) -

Ohio's state auditor says he's turned up four more school districts, including Cincinnati and Winton Woods, that removed poor-performing students from their rolls.
    
Auditor David Yost also identified more than 70 schools or districts with attendance reporting errors, though these didn't appear to be purposeful.

Yost has now identified nine districts in his investigation of the data withdrawal practice known as "scrubbing." The term "scrubbing" entails withdrawing students without proper documentation or justification. Such withdrawals are referred to as "attendance scrub­bing" because they enable a school to remove or "scrub" a student's poor attendance record. Another implication of withdrawing students is that their educational records do not count when calculating school performance for Ohio's accountability system—that is, their edu­cational records are rolled up to the state level for accountability purposes.

Yost says the state should peg school funding on year-long attendance figures to encourage attendance through the entire year.

The report includes findings for school year 2010-11.

According to the audit, Cincinnati was found to have "systemic weaknesses in the application of due process and withdrew students without court determination of truancy."

During testing, the auditor noted a pattern of students transferring from one school to another, which CPS coded as withdrawals, resulting in breaks in enrollment.

District officials told the auditor's office that they withdrawal a student when the student's parent or guardian indicates the student will be transferring to another school within the district. However, CPS enters a withdrawal date but does not enter a reason for the transfers. When the student attends the new school, the district re-enrolls the student.

CPS officials said they knew they were in non-compliance, but indicated they did not agree with the Ohio Department of Education's business rules in regards to intra-district transfers. CPS officials believe a break in enrollment is justified if the student fails to immediately attend the new school on day of transfer.

The auditor's office reviewed 369 student files from seven CPS schools - George Hays-Jennie
Porter Elementary, Chase Elementary, Oyler School, Quebec Heights, South Avondale, Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Virtual High School - and noted a lack of supporting documentation and withdrawal errors for 146 students. The majority of students, 98, appear to be a result of the CPS practice of breaking enrollment for intra-district transfers.

Winton Woods City School District, self-reported its findings that District Officials had identified a limited number of students whose attendance records were improperly report by its EMIS Coordinator for fiscal year ended June 30, 2012. This information was discovered by the District after conduction an internal investigation to determine the scope and frequency of suspect EMIS data adjustments discovered during a compilation and review of documents related to a public records request.

Based upon the above information, the AOS collected a sample of 30 student files from the 74 students who were retroactively withdraw. Our result indicated that there were 14 improper withdraws noted in the sample files.

The auditor's office will refer the schools with evidence of scrubbing to ODE for further investigation and recalculation of the school report cards. AOS also will request that ODE consider reviewing the schools with errors identified in this report to determine whether the number or nature of errors AOS identified requires further assessment of the school report cards by ODE. Similarly, the schools with evidence of data scrubbing will be referred to the U.S. Department of Education Office of the Inspector General (IG) for review. It is anticipated that the IG will review these findings in the context of Federal law, and will consult with the United States Attorneys for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio.

The audit of attendance practices in Ohio's schools began when results of an internal audit at Columbus City Schools revealed irregular attendance and enrollment practices and similar allegations surfaced at Toledo City Schools and Lockland City Schools.

Yost previously said Campbell, Cleveland, Columbus, Marion and Toledo city schools improperly removed students. He also identified Canton and Northridge Local schools on Monday.

Several local schools were also declared 'clean,' including Mt. Healthy Junior High School, North College Hill High School, Winton Woods Elementary, Batavia Elementary, Batavia Middle, Northwest High School, Pleasant Run Middle, Taylor Elementary, Withamsville‐Tobasco
Elementary and Cincinnati Leadership Academy. The Goshen Local School District, Indian Hill Exempted Village Schools and Madeira City Schools were also declared clean.

To read the full audit, click here.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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