Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost announced Thursday that his office would expand its investigation into fraudulent modifications to student attendance records made in the Columbus School District statewide. In a letter to the Ohio Board of Education President, Yost said the Auditor's office will examine attendance reporting practices at local school districts, community schools and at the Ohio Department of Education.
The Auditor's office has been conducting a joint investigation with the Columbus School District into allegations the district falsified attendance records to improve its state report card.
The decision to expand the investigation comes a day after the Ohio Department of Education announced similar falsification had occurred in the Lockland Local School District, in the Cincinnati area. Yost also cited media reports that the same manipulation may have taken place at Toledo Public Schools.
Toledo News Now reported Wednesday that the Ohio Department of Education has opened an investigation into attendance record fraud in Toledo. The department is investigating claims that Columbus and Toledo schools retroactively altered student attendance records to boost district report card scores. Department officials say TPS may have dropped chronically absent students from district roles to avoid having their failing test scores counted towards the district's report card, then reenrolled the students the following year.
Yost asked that the Department of Education preserve all documents and records related to the investigation, as criminal charges could be possible depending on what the investigation uncovers.
In the letter, Yost states there is currently no evidence to suggest that the Department of Education is involved in the falsification of attendance records, but that the new information showing the fraud took place in more districts throughout the state suggest the department may have failed to provide adequate oversight in the attendance reporting process.
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