Columbus schools audit alleges data irregularities

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An investigation by Columbus school officials says district officials changed records to make it appear students who were actually in school had withdrawn.

The audit by Columbus City Schools also says officials improperly changed grades and attendance records that were years old and temporarily demoted students to lower grades.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/VcHTAE ) the audit found district officials operated under their own interpretation of rules and their efforts hurt the accuracy of state report cards.

Superintendent Gene Smith in her response to the audit acknowledged systemic deficiencies and record-keeping problems but added without explanation that she disagreed with the report's findings.

Federal authorities are now involved in a probe into whether attendance and enrollment data of poor-performing students was manipulated to boost district performance rankings.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com