Columbus City Schools Adopts New Attendance, Withdrawal Policies

Columbus City School board members approve new policies officials say will lessen the chances of another data scandal.(Photo: Columbus City Schools)
Columbus City School board members approve new policies officials say will lessen the chances of another data scandal.(Photo: Columbus City Schools)

Opponents to the Columbus City Schools levy have called for reform before they agree to a tax increase. So two weeks before Election Day, WOSU reports school board members approved policy changes, Tuesday night, which officials say could make another data-scrubbing scandal less likely.

The on-going state investigation into the Columbus City Schools attendance-rigging scandal triggered public mistrust. Now district and city officials need to improve voter confidence with less than two weeks left before a 9 mil levy goes to voters.

In a special meeting, school board members unanimously approved changes to the district’s student attendance and withdrawal policies.

Interim superintendent Dan Good said district officials hear the appeals for change. And he said the amendments are one step the district has taken to regain public trust.

“It certainly does speak to our community’s desire for a more transparent process,” Good said. “Being able to trust that the policies would, in fact, prevent the sort of data scrubbing from occurring in the future. And I believe these do that.”

Combined, the two policies are nine pages long compared to the 10-paragraphs drawn up just before Good took the post.

Principals and other staff now have a detailed set of guidelines on how to remove a student from the district’s roll. It was withdrawing students and then retroactively re-enrolling them to enhance state report cards that landed the district under investigation.

Truant students can’t just be withdrawn. A court has to deem them “unruly” or “delinquent” for chronic absences first. And for those students whose whereabouts are unknown, the district must try to locate them for 15 days before they can be taken off the roll.

Withdrawal records also must be retained in the student’s file. And the policy calls for “random attendance audits.”

Board president Carol Perkins calls the move “a great start.”

“We know it’s now time for a change. We to implement and put strong processes in place,” Perkins said.

State Auditor Dave Yost signed off on the policies calling them “robust.”

  • Jon Beard

    Transparency would be for the District, which claims to have been investigating the data scrubbing issues — remember Gene Harris saying she would “get to the bottom of this” (kind of like OJ promising to find Nicole’s real killer) — to release a report detailing what happened, who was responsible, and how they were held accountable. Instead of transparency, CCS jumps straight to “this will never happen again.” That is not transparency, that is cover-up.
    CCS refuses to admit data scrubbing was wrong. In court documents filed as recently as last month, CCS says it plans to call Cleveland and Toledo (other data scrubbers identified by the state auditor) as its witnesses.
    CCS refuses to allow the interviews and investigation records to become public, arguing they are covered by attorney-client privilege, and CCS is going to court on October 28th to defend the non-public Executive Sessions it called that a judge issued a temporary injunction to deny the schools from having more of these (likely illegal) meetings.
    The schools have spent over half-a million dollars in legal fees to Porter Wright Morris & Arthur for “Governance and Compliance Issues” over the past year, including a whopping $340,502.94 invoice dated June 27, 2013.
    And the Mayor is leading a million dollar campaign to give these unaccountable people who don’t respect the public more money. Unbelievable.