Auditor’s Report Slams Record Keeping Practices, Former Data Czar

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State Auditor Dave Yost began his Tuesday presentation with a graphic of a rotten apple, an apparent play on the Columbus City Schools logo.(Photo: Thomas Bradley, WOSU News)
State Auditor Dave Yost began his Tuesday presentation with a graphic of a rotten apple, an apparent play on the Columbus City Schools logo.(Photo: Thomas Bradley, WOSU News)

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost says thousands of student grades within the Columbus City Schools were changed without teacher input.

Yost released the results of an 18 month investigation into the practice of scrubbing student records on Tuesday morning.

Yost says his office “will be referring the evidence of the alternation of student attendance data as directed from the Kingswood Data Center to the Columbus City Attorney’s Office, Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney, and U.S. Attorney’s Office for their consideration.”

Storify: “Generation” Of Columbus School Students Left Behind

Yost repeatedly referenced the illegal data altering that took place at the Kingswood Data Center, which was contracted by the district, at the instruction of the district’s former “data czar”, Steve Tankovich.

Yost said the investigation showed Tankovich even manipulated data himself at the data center.

How can (state education officials) make good data-driven decisions when the data is garbage?

Yost said he would be disappointed if his office’s report did not result in any criminal charges.

Click here for a full report from WOSU’s Tom Borgerding and Mandie Trimble.

Tankovich was in charge during the time of what state investigators found was a practice of scrubbing student records that factor into state report cards, government funding, and employment bonuses.

The school district, based on the completion of the audit, issued letters to four principals, putting them on administrative leave, effective immediately. This brings the total number of people that have left the district or put on leave to 15.

The four principals that were put on leave were:

  • Christopher Qualls – principal — Independence High School
  • Tiffany Chaver – principal on special assignment — Linden-McKinley STEM Academy
  • Jonathan K. Stevens – principal — Mifflin High School
  • Pamela K. Diggs – principal — Marion-Franklin High School

Dan Good, superintendent of Columbus City Schools, wrote a letter to Auditor Yost outlining changes and improvements he will make as a result of the investigation. Good informed Yost that the district would be taking 17 steps to prevent something like this from “plaguing” the district ever again.

Yost says the district may have violated the federal No Child Left Behind Act, as well as state law banning record tampering.

Yost says the investigation found more than 7,000 grade changes with nearly 3,000 from an F to a D. He says throughout the investigation auditors frequently found missing records.

“It’s not just paperwork,” Yost said. ”These are document that are designed to record significant events in a child’s life: passing or not passing a course, attendance records”

Since the start of the data investigation the district has replaced Superintendent Gene Harris and several other top administrators.

When asked if his office interviewed Harris, Yost said he’s “constrained” by some federal laws, and that other offices are involved.

Yost said there were nine objectives of the audit, and went over all nine of them in detail on Tuesday.

Comments
  • magyart

    So, the feds must go after “king pin” Gene Harris ?

  • David Corey

    Why is this article tagged “.40 caliber round” ?

    • WOSU

      CMS issue, which has now been resolved.