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CPS makes changes to avoid "scrubbing" data




New policy

In order to comply with state rules, Cincinnati Public Schools says it has changed the way it reports when a student transfers from one school in the district to another. Instead of  withdrawing the student from one school and waiting for him or her to enroll at another, the district will now enroll the student immediately in the new school and the new school will have the responsibility to make sure the student shows up.

This is in direct response to accusations of data scrubbing from the Ohio Auditor's office, which accused nine districts, including CPS and Winton Woods.  The audit began after irregular attendance and enrollment practices surfaced in the Lockland, Toledo and Columbus School Districts.

In February Auditor Dave Yost said the districts fudged data to look better on state reports, as WVXU reported.

Local Districts respond

In a letter to Yost in February, CPS said it had examined the matter internally and found no evidence any of its employees intentionally manipulated attendance data in a manner in which they knew to be improper. It says the majority of errors relate to "building to building transfers." At a news conference, CPS said it will not lose millions of dollars after violating what it called a "business rule."

CPS reasoning for the old way

Director of Research, Evaluation and Test Administration Elizabeth Holtzapple said the old way reflected reality, where a student actually was. She says the district has received minimal guidance from the state. "We're still hoping that there will be changes but actually more importantly, clarification, in terms of what to do in particular situations."

For example, CPS has a family who moved outside the district. They are no longer CPS students and the mother doesn't have transportation to get to the new district to enroll the students. CPS is still carrying these students on the books.  Holtzapple says,"when we actually shouldn't be and the issue really is with that family, actually being able to do what they need to do to enroll properly in the new district when the new district doesn't seem to be providing a lot of assistance to get that family enrolled."

In the 2011-2012 school year there were 6,500 transfers, although not all had breaks in enrollment.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.