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Cleveland Schools CEO: No Evidence of Wrongdoing in Cleveland Data Scrubbing

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Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Cleveland school district CEO Eric Gordon said yesterday the state auditor has found "no evidence of intentional wrongdoing" in its audit of the Cleveland school district's attendance records. But the Cleveland school district's past attendance records are still unable to be audited, meaning it's impossible to confirm that the district followed state attendance laws.

The auditor's office declined to comment specifically on Gordon's statement, but auditor's office spokesperson Carrie Bartunek said determining intent was not within the scope of the auditor's work.

Auditor of State Dave Yost is investigating whether schools across Ohio improperly altered student records in other to improve their state report card grades. Cleveland is one of six Ohio school districts the state auditor and the Ohio Department of Education have already found to have engaged in the practice, which the auditor calls "scrubbing."

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The full report on the auditor's findings is expected Monday.

Yost began his investigation after the Columbus Dispatch reported that the Columbus schools retroactively altered thousands of student-attendance records.

Yost has said the problem in Cleveland is that schools did not keep records to show whether changes to student attendance records were legal, as required by state law.

Gordon has previously denied that Cleveland schools improperty altered student data. He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last year:

But Gordon said it's a leap to suggest that the district cheated by designing procedures that would improve the district's report card ratings. He pointed to the district's highly mobile population, with students often switching schools during the year.

At an event at Ideastream in Cleveland Thursday, Gordon also said the fact that many Cleveland students move into and out of the district or among schools during the course of the year is not the reason why it did not maintain the required attendance records:

"We did not say mobility was the reason that we were not able to be auditable. Although [we] did point out mobility is a significant factor challenging us."

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