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Student audit part of state probe


September 15, 2012

The Lisbon school district was among those recently audited as part of a widening state probe into whether enrollment and attendance figures were manipulated by schools to boost test scores.

Superintendent Don Thompson said they were chosen, not because of any suspected wrongdoing, but because there was already a state audit team there completing work on a routine audit of the district's finances.

"The bottom line is everything was in place and nothing was found," he said, adding the same thing has happened with 35 other districts where 60-day financial audits were in the process of being completed. The audit teams were instructed to remain at those school districts to review the attendance records as part of the state probe.

The state auditor's office launched the investigation after questionable enrollment and attendance practices were discovered in the Columbus, Toledo and suburban Cincinnati school districts. These schools are suspected of deliberately removing poor performing students from the books during testing periods to boost the district's academic performance.

The Ohio Department of Education has delayed release of the annual state report cards that ranks districts and schools until the investigation is completed.

Thompson volunteered the information about the district undergoing an attendance audit because he was concerned the information would come to light, giving the impression that Lisbon was selected because of possible wrongdoing, which was not the case.

"My fear is it would come out that Lisbon was selected, so there must be something wrong," he said.

In other meeting action, the board:

- Reappointed Chris Huckshold head boys varsity basketball coach and Jason Thompson head girls varsity coach.

- Hired Kelly House as an intervention tutor for $26,145 and no benefits, with the money for her salary coming from federal funds received by the district.

- Approved professional leaves of absence for Jodi McCullough to travel to Australia in November to view a total eclipse and for Sarah Julian to attend the National Social Studies Conference in Seattle.

"We are not paying for the cost of either trip," Thompson said, noting a grant from the county Educational Service Center is paying for Julian's trip. He said the only cost to the district would be from employing substitute teachers while they are gone.

Thompson is sure the teachers will put the information to good use, especially McCullough who can be expected to turn her viewing of the total eclipse into a science lesson for her students.

- Accepted the resignations of part-time food service workers Michelle Blair and Emma Baker.

- Hired R & R Paving of Lisbon for $16,900 to perform blacktop work at the football stadium.

- Hired Roth Brothers of Youngstown to perform roof maintenance services at both school buildings for a combined $4,860.

The board's next meeting is 5 p.m. Oct. 9.



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