The Ohio Department of Education has launched an investigation into Toledo Public Schools' attendance-keeping practices. The measure was in addition to TPS' own internal investigation.
The practice could impact annual district and building report cards. Chronically truant students were taken out of the mix for the tabulation of test scores. TPS officials said it appears at the end of the year, those truant students were retroactively dropped from the district and reenrolled.
"The Department of Education does not allow school districts to manipulate that data to improve their attendance rate or their test scores. That's won't be tolerated," said John Charlton, Associate Director of Communications for the Ohio Department of Education.
Superintendent Jerome Pecko said he discovered the issue when he saw an article about a similar practice in Columbus. He inquired into whether it could be happening in Toledo.
TPS hired an attorney to investigate. No one is quite sure when it started, but TPS Board President Lisa Sobecki said she believes it started before her time on the board.
"We're going to look for the Ohio Department of Education to give us guidance to make sure we're in line with the regulations set forth," Sobecki said.
Pecko sent a letter to the state asking for that guidance. State officials said they decided to investigate when they saw media reports over the weekend. Sobecki said it was Pecko who informed the media of the issue.
"Exactly what Toledo Public Schools did is exactly what our community has been asking for us to do, and that is to be up front and honest with the community," she said.
The state's investigator will analyze date to determine what step will be next. Charlton said Pecko has been "very cooperative and forthright" with the state.
However, depending on what they find, there could be consequences. District and school report cards could be impacted.
"If we can determine that there was some unprofessional behavior, the employees that did that could have their educator license revoked," Charlton said.
The district will place a levy on the ballot in November. Sobecki said she hopes this will not hurts its chances of passing.
"I hope the community will continue to look at the growth and continue to look at the transparency," she said.
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