Eye on Education

Auditor Says “Bunker” Culture Led to Data Scrubbing in Columbus Schools

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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.




  • Ed U. Cation

    So to be clear CCS scrubbed data in a system that had no controls in place from a state role such as oh let’s see ODE?? As an employee what I know about ODE is there are groups of bullies who run rampant, get paid fat paychecks and do nothing or are unqualified. If you try to make positive change, you cannot get anywhere because the Superintendent has a vicious tyrannical gatekeeper named Susan to deflect information. The leadership turnover was needed to move forward, not backwards. Instead the old regime of ODE are reassigned, locked up, or chased out. Then you have a large group of unqualified people in positions. CIO’s, COO’s and security people should not be out to hurt people but rather be visionary for a better future for Ohio students. Instead, this crew finds it easier to scheme in a slimy manner to not do their jobs, but run around trying to see how many people they can scam. More to come on this waste of taxpayer dollars such as running airline ticket businesses through ODE, inappropriate email disposal due to shady relationships and more. So let’s not stop with CPS!

  • Regina Phalange

    I know Ed. You are spot on. The big picture is ODE and why they even exist! From what I see working there in direct contact with their technology dept.a lot of waste. The leader of that team is lost and she leans on one unqualified male after another. There’s this security guy that bullies people and is supported by OIT and the lost leader. He is really not bright and always wants to write people up and threaten their jobs instead of protecting the organization. What a joke that group is.

  • Josh

    ODE is such a waste. No guidance or supervision. I don’t work there but am smart enough to know they are useless and I used to know one of the people referred to below and Lordy I hope her escapades don’t get out!

  • Greg

    They just fired a brilliant employee who was more interested in doing the correct things than the thug style activity at ODE within the technical team. He was a great boss and will be missed. That is now two people this shady crew have treated terribly for doing what is right instead of going along with their bullying and shady practices at ODE. What I would like to understand is where is this agencies legal department or Human Resources department and why is this allowed to continue? I have to believe these folks knew way too much and tried to stop the unprofessional and unethical activity in this department. Now they have managed to get one of their own in a position to watch out for the best interest of the company and no one sees it but the employees who are too afraid to speak up because retaliation is not new to this group of people. I as a taxpayer am enraged that my money is paying these people to act as they do rather than provide sound leadership to the school systems out there and instill the controls necessary to prevent this type of data rigging activity. Why have ODE?

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