The Columbus school district could face state takeover because it improperly altered student records, if a provision inserted into the state budget is approved.
The amendment (starting on p. 248) allows the state superintendent to “establish an academic distress commission for any school district that is found by the Auditor of State to have knowingly manipulated student data with evidence of intent to deceive.”
Columbus is the only district the auditor has found to have manipulated student data with intent to deceive. (The auditor found a total of nine districts manipulated student data, but has not said other districts besides Columbus did so in order to deceive.)
Columbus is currently the target of multiple state and federal investigations in connection with the data manipulation, as well as in connection with altered student grades.
Still, the proposal was news to officials in Toledo, which was one of the districts that manipulated student data, the Toledo Blade reports:
Superintendent Jerry Pecko said it didn’t sound like a good idea, and that stability is important in TPS right now.
— Nolan_Rosenkrans (@NolanRosenkrans) April 17, 2013
The chair of the House Education Committee told the Columbus Dispatch the amendent was proposed by the Columbus Education Commission, a group charged by the city’s mayor with coming up with ways to improve Columbus schools. The commission’s spokesperson tells the Dispatch the commission was not behind the proposal.
Alex Fischer, a member of the mayor’s commission and president of the Columbus Partnership, which represents prominent local business and institutional leaders…said he had heard rumors for weeks that lawmakers were concerned about the issue, but when asked whether the partnership pushed for the change, Fischer responded: “Not in an official way.”
The full House is expected to vote on the full budget bill tomorrow.