Lockland School District superintendent Donna Hubbard has been put on paid administrative leave amid allegations of shady enrollment bookkeeping that resulted in low-scoring students being coded as withdrawn from the Ohio schools, when they were in fact just frequently absent, Cincinnati.com reports. State officials say the altered student attendance records in turn artificially inflated test scores.
Lockland, which boasts 632 students, is one of three districts being investigated for retroactively modifying student attendance and enrollment records -- the other two being Columbus and Toledo.
Department of Education officials say Lockland staff reported 36 regularly absent students as having transferred out of the district, but no district reported ever receiving them. Later, these students were added back to the district’s official roster, but the lapse in enrollment periods caused their test scores to be excluded from the district’s overall performance index, which factors into the district’s state report card.
The district’s and schools’ test score data has since been recalculated, and Lockland’s state rating has been lowered from “Effective” to “Continuous Improvement” -- the fourth lowest of six state designations, Cincinnati.com reports.
According to WKRC, a rating of effective translates to a "B," while continuous improvement represents a "C" grade.
Some Lockland educators are currently being investigated, and officials say could be punished and stripped of their licenses if they are found to have deliberately violated state reporting laws.
Hubbard, who has worked for the district for 37 years, isn’t the only Ohio education official accused of shady practices. The Dayton Daily News reports Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner may have violated state ethics laws when he pushed for a bill with ties to his would-be future employer.
An investigation by the state inspector general found that on May 11, 2011, Heffner testified before state lawmakers in favor of House Bill 153, which required teachers at low-achieving schools retake licensure tests administered by Education Testing Service, a New Jersey-based company.
According to a report, two weeks earlier Heffner had signed an acceptance letter for a job at ETS earning $180,000 a year. He later turned down the job to stay on as Ohio’s top education official, the Dayton Daily News reports.
Heffner has accepted the inspector general’s findings, and does not plan on resigning from his post.
“I was wrong, and I’m sorry for my lack of judgment,” he said. “I’ve apologized to my staff, my friends and colleagues at the department, and the [State Board of Education]. I have learned from my mistakes, and I will work with the Board to take whatever steps they feel are necessary to resolve this matter and move forward.”