The Ohio Department of Education has referred seven school districts, including Toledo Public Schools, to its office of Professional Conduct, which will investigate whether any individual staff members "participated in conduct unbecoming the teaching profession" by manipulating student data.
The announcement is the latest fallout in a statewide investigation in data "scrubbing," or how some districts withdrew chronically absent students from the classroom and then promptly re-enrolled them to “scrub” them from attendance data reported to the state.
Toledo officials voluntarily notified the Ohio Department of Education of its practice after attendance scrubbing at the Columbus schools was publicized by the Columbus Dispatch. Toledo officials argued the practice was well-known and done with no ill intent.
State Auditor Dave Yost launched a statewide investigation into the practices. The Education Department conducted its own investigation, analyzing report cards for the 2010-2011 school year for those districts. The department said in a statement today that it reviewed student records to determine if students were reported by another institution as enrolled there. It then gave districts a chance to provide documentation to prove withdrawals were valid.
The department determined more than half the withdrawals were valid, and said those withdrawals could artificially inflate district and school report cards. Providing inaccurate data through the state's data reporting system is against state law, ODE said.
“Misreporting of attendance data or ‘scrubbing’ jeopardizes the entire accountability system in Ohio and will not be tolerated,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross said in a statement. “These actions will be investigated and may result in professional conduct sanctions up to and including suspension or revocation of licensure.”
Districts referred to the office of Professional Conduct include TPS, Campbell City, Cincinnati Public Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Marion City School District, Northridge Local School District, and Winton Woods City School District.