Ohio school scandal still isn’t closed

It has been five years since it was revealed dozens of teachers and administrators in the Columbus school system were falsifying student data. It was a massive conspiracy to make the district and some schools in it appear to be doing better jobs than actually was the case.

Now, Ohioans are learning that the education establishment protects its own, even when they have been lying to the public.

State Auditor Dave Yost investigated the scandal and identified 64 administrators suspected of being involved in the outrage. Of that number, just 16 have been disciplined, it has been reported. Hundreds of teachers may have been involved, too.

Thirty-five of the 64 administrators remain on the school district payroll.

As details of the scandal became public, the breathtaking nature of what happened was made clear. The conspiracy was aimed at making standardized test score averages appear higher than they were by removing many low-performing students from lists of those who had taken the test. Another scheme involved making attendance rates look higher than they were. It was reported that during a 5 1/2 year period, about 2.8 million student absences were eliminated from records.

Both local and state education officials vowed to crack down on those responsible. A few people, including then-Columbus school Superintendent Gene Harris, indeed were disciplined.

But after that initial wave of action, it appears both local and state officials decided to hope the scandal would go away. They will not even provide general information on their investigation.

Yost is upset about that. “How long do these things lay around languishing in the (state) Department of Education?” he asked a reporter.

Ohioans should join Yost in being angry. If the Columbus case is any indication of how seriously state officials take integrity in public schools, how much confidence can there be in schools elsewhere in the state?


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