CMSD: Audit ‘Does Not Mean We Cheat’

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CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has responded to an interim report released on Thursday which named the district as one of five that “improperly withdrew students from enrollment” in a way that skewed results of school attendance.

The state “Interim Report on Student Attendance Data and Accountability System” report claims that 15 of Cleveland’s schools that received “D” and “F” letter grades may have altered their attendance records so they could receive higher marks for their state report card ratings.

“The state-wide review sheds light on the complexity of attendance reporting, especially in high-mobility districts, and we are hopeful that it will lead to improved practices at the state and local level,” said CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. “There is no question that improvements are needed in our own practices. That does not mean we cheat.”

The report recommended that the Ohio Department of Education makes several changes, including the implementation of a cross-check system that would confirm the timing of withdrawals and enrollments.

The report also suggested ways to reduce the opportunity to manipulate the outcome of report cards.

In light of the audit, Gordon said he will challenge any suggestion that procedures used in Cleveland were established in order to improve the district’s report card ratings.

“I’m upset about the report because it suggests or implies that we were doing the reporting in the way we were so we could gain the report card system, and when you look at our data and all the fighting we have done in the past year to really be able to transform this school system” said Gordon.

The district has raised questions to auditors but Gordon said he has not yet received answers.

Gordon said he and the district will address the issues in the state audit report and they will now focus on moving forward to gain support to get the school levy passed in November.