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Ohio Auditor Unable To Determine 'Malicious Intent' In E-School Data Scandal

Auditor Dave Yost (left) discusses the bill alongside Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), the chair of the Health, Human Services and Medicaid committee.
Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio

A review of the way Ohio’s education department handled a charter school data-scrubbing scandal was unable to determine if there was “malicious” intent involved. But the state auditor does say that the department was poorly run with a lack of control. 

Auditor Dave Yost looked into what happened three years ago, when the Ohio Department of Education charter school chief David Hansen intentionally left “F” grades off performance evaluations of online charter schools. This resulted in better evaluations and a more appealing outlook for the e-schools on a multi-million dollar grant application to the U.S. Department of Education.

There was concern that then-state superintendent Dick Ross or anyone in Gov. John Kasich’s staff might also have been involved.

Yost has long been a supporter of charter schools. In his newly and quietly-released audit, Yost found that there were emails with omitted information, such as who sent them or who received them.

But with a lack of internal control and inconsistent recollections, Yost’s audit could not determine if the scrubbing was a result of malicious intent or lack of oversight.

“A robust sponsor evaluation system is a key accountability measure that drives continuous improvement and helps ensure Ohio’s families have quality school choice options,” said Brittany Halpin, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education, in a statement. “Thanks to the reforms passed by the General Assembly, the expectations are high and we see sponsors rising to the challenge. We appreciate Auditor Yost and his team for their work and remain dedicated to strong oversight of Ohio’s community school system.”