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Auditor Says "Bunker" Culture Led to Data Scrubbing in Columbus Schools

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 9:48 PM

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Data scrubbing in the Columbus City Schools went far beyond manipulating attendance data to inflate the district’s standing on the 2010-2011 report card.

The report released from State Auditor Dave Yost today shows administrators repeatedly changed student grades from an “F” to a “D”, listed seniors on the books who weren’t enrolled, and passed students through the online credit recovery program who never completed the work.

Andy Chow with the Statehouse News Bureau reports Yost found top officials have been gaming the system for years.

“Another thing that we found was what I call bunker culture,” Yost said at a news conference this morning.


“Folks were very aware that the things that they said or didn’t say could affect their careers, their teaching contracts.  They were worried about reprisals.  More than one instance our investigators interviewed somebody who was close to tears.  They were worried about their jobs.”

The report points to the district’s former data manager Steve Tankovich as having led the data rigging, the Columbus Dispatch reports.  And Yost said there’s enough evidence to infer that former Superintendent Gene Harris was aware of what was going on.

The report’s release is the culmination of an 18 month investigation in which the state reviewed Columbus Schools records dating back to 2002 and interviewed over 200 teachers, 40 principals, and dozens of other district staff.

Columbus Schools officials say four principals have been suspended with pay and will be fired, according to the Dispatch.

Yost says he will send a criminal referral to prosecutors and the Ohio Department of Education for license sanctions.



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