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April 24, 2013 / Alison Wilson

Lawsuit alleges that school district manipulated student data to increase school performance ratings

Jonathan Beard filed a civil suit earlier this year in Franklin County, Ohio state court on behalf of his daughter, Kailey, an East High School student who was unable to use a charter voucher to attend East after East manipulated its academic ratings stores to shut out charter students.  Beard is the second parent to sue the district for what has been dubbed the student-data scandal. The first suit was filed in November, 2012.

Under Ohio’s Edchoice program, students with private-school vouchers must be assigned to low-performing schools. East High School, however, was the subject of an internal audit that determined that the school was improperly manipulating rankings and academic ratings data in a way that prevented students with vouchers for private charter schools from being admitted.

According to the East High School internal auditor, East High School was withdrawing students who were actually still at the school.  The withdrawal of these students  allowed the school to toss out their test scores and attendance records.   Because they had been withdrawn, those students’ test scores were wiped from report-card calculations. Beard alleges that the improper withdrawal of low-performing students caused his daughter’s home school, East High School, to rise in academic status, making her ineligible for a state voucher that allows students in failing institutions to attend better schools.   Without the voucher, Kailey Beard’s $9,000 tuition to a nearby private school was not covered.

Beard wants the court to force the district to submit accurate data to the Ohio Department of Education and he wants the district to stop denying that incorrect data has been submitted already “My family was harmed. We were financially harmed. We informally approached (the district) and asked them to make us whole, and they rejected that”, Beard said. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Jeff Warner, spokesman for the Columbus School District, said that Beard’s lawsuit is “without merit” and that the district plans to make that case.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of school data manipulation, contact Khorrami, LLP for a confidential consultation.

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