Ohio auditor's attendance-fixing probe concluding

JULIE CARR SMYTH Associated Press Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Results of a statewide probe into potential school attendance tampering, launched after unusual practices were uncovered around the state, are to come Monday.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost's planned release will say how many Ohio schools have removed poor-performing students from their rolls in attempts to improve performance ratings that can impact federal funding and employee bonuses.

Yost's auditors spread out across the state to investigate a statistically selected sampling of districts.

He launched the review in response to unusual practices discovered in Toledo and suburban Cincinnati districts, as well as in Columbus. In November, federal authorities joined the investigation into the Columbus schools and Yost separated the district from the rest of the state probe due to the likelihood of criminal referrals.

Columbus Superintendent Gene Harris plans to resign at the end of the school year, in a move she says is unrelated to Yost's probe.

Another district employee, data analyst Stephen Tankovich, also announced his resignation effective next month. Tankovich had served stints as the district's chief information officer and accountability director. He's been a key figure in unfolding events.

A former district superintendent in the southwestern Ohio district of Lockland sued last year to keep their jobs amid the state investigation. Donna Hubbard and her son alleged the school board violated open-meetings laws when voting 3-1 to oust them.

Yost identified five districts for questionable attendance methods during the first round of investigative findings. A second round of results was issued ahead of November's election to aid districts seeking levies. It turned up no additional irregularities.

Amid the investigation, the state Board of Education opted to delay release of district assessments, known as report cards, which are eagerly anticipated by educators, parents and communities. Board members said they were concerned that widespread inaccuracies may exist in attendance data that could have compromised the rankings.

Yost appeared before the board and urged release of the information. He said it wouldn't interfere with his work.