News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron Children's Hospital

Hennes Paynter Communications

Akron General

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Cleveland schools' attendance data called into question
Potential scandal could hurt chances of levy passing

Grant Engle
In The Region:

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has a 15-mill levy on the Nov. 6 ballot – hoping to raise some $85 million to stave off hundreds of additional layoffs and overhaul the district.

The levy has the backing of Democrats and Republicans, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. But, a recent report from the state auditor’s office might make voters hesitate.

WKSU’s Grant Engle reports on the potential impact of an attendance scandal on Ohio’s second largest school district.

WKSU's Grant Engle reports

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (2:33)

Last week, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost announced the findings from an interim report that implicates five school districts, including Cleveland, in manipulating attendance data. They’re suspected of dropping kids from their rolls so their test scores wouldn’t count on the district report cards – even though some of the children never actually withdrew from school. Yost says he can’t determine motive, yet, and Cleveland data is challenging to collect because of the high number of students transferring in and out of the system.

Carrie Bartunek is a spokeswoman for the auditor’s office. 

“This was an interim report to start to give feedback to schools that we have already looked at. Particularly schools who are going to be on the levy – or are going to have a levy, I should say, on the ballot in November. We’re trying to give them feedback so their communities know where they stand before they go to the ballot.”

But interim or not, showing up on the list could mean trouble when it comes to voters.

Jerry Rampelt is a consultant who has worked with school districts in Ohio on levy campaigns. He says even the possibility that schools might be cheating can hurt the chances of a levy passing. But, he says Cleveland has a few options for damage control.

“One of them is you are extremely transparent. You never want to appear as if you’re hiding information because the story of hiding information can end up bigger than the original story. So, transparency is paramount. The second thing is that if you are in the midst of cleaning up and correcting and rectifying the situation – you need to have that be part of your story.”

The district has responded to the auditor’s findings with two press releases from Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon.

Gordon acknowledged some of his schools may have issues with attendance reporting, but  rejected any implication that Cleveland schools manipulated attendance data to improve their academic rating. For one thing, the initial release said, if the district were cheating, its report cards would not be so miserable.  It noted that nine Cleveland schools are in academic emergency – the worst rating possible.

Other school districts implicated in the initial audit are Columbus, Toledo, Marion and Campbell. A sixth district, Lockland, already has lost report-card ratings because of attendance rigging at one of its schools.

The auditor’s office says its full statewide report should be available around Jan. 1. 

The next step will be to make recommendations to the Ohio Department of Education if the auditor’s office believes the district deliberately broke the law to better its performance on state report cards.

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Charter reform bill includes controversial change for some teachers
I work for a former White Hat charter school; it was sold to another (for-profit) company this past summer and we were told that they would not pay into STRS/PE...

Bhutanese resettlement has had a big economic impact
Informative especially for nonmembers of North Hill. I appreciate the fact that you mention that the younger generation has an easier time than the elders but t...

Ottawa County Commissioner sworn in as new house member
Congratulations on your new appointment to the Ohio House. I'm certain you will do an outstanding job in your new role representing our district. When you have...

Holden Arboretum opens a new canopy walk and emergent tower
Visited the Holden Arboretum today to witness the incredible work you did constructing the tower and bridges.WOW! Very impressed. Knew the build had to be great...

Local club works to bring back the once-prevalent American elm
I would love to help! Where would I get some of the new Strain so I could plant them?

Four Geauga school districts consider consolidating on the Kent State campus
Berkshire was smart to merge with Ledgemont because it had shrinking enrollment and excess capacity at its high school. Now that Cardinal is dragging its feet ...

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University