Internal Auditor Says Columbus City Schools 'Cooked Books,' Needs Better Whistleblower Policy

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An internal auditor found that Columbus City Schools should have better fraud reporting and whistleblower policies.

The audit revealed that the school district "cooked books."

Internal auditor Carolyn Smith's investigation revealed three incidents of grade-changing.

Smith said that in two cases, vice principals changed grades. In the other case, a regional director changed a grade.

Smith said that she also found that some students were dropped off attendance rolls as tenth graders but were later re-enrolled as ninth-graders.

"The recommendation is for the district to immediately suspend the practice of breaking the students' enrollment without proper documentation," Smith said.

The report said in one instance, the auditor witnessed a school secretary deleting students' unexcused absences.

The concern is, any data tampering might have thrown off state report card results, making the district appear to be performing better than they are.

The internal auditor recommended that the district implement a fraud-reporting hotline and a district-wide whistle-blower policy.

Columbus City Schools Superintendent Gene Harris said that she has been on board with the investigation.

Harris said that a whistle-blower policy has been drafted and would be presented to the board of education. The drafted policy already has restricted access to data entry points to remove the threat of tampering.

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Previous Stories:

December 20, 2012: Columbus City Schools' Internal Auditor Finds 3 Instances Of Grade-Changing
December 5, 2012: Auditor’s Office To Start Billing Columbus Schools For Special Audit
November 30, 2012: Columbus Parent Files Lawsuit Against Schools Over 'Data Scrubbing' Investigation
November 13, 2012: State Auditor To Recommend Criminal Charges Against Columbus City School District
October 18, 2012: Columbus Schools Releases Documents That Led To Attendance Reporting Investigation
October 4, 2012: Columbus Schools Attendance Policy Among 5 Questioned
September 10, 2012: School Attendance Scandal Costing Taxpayers Thousands
September 10, 2012: Auditor: Probe Not Affected By Report Card Release
August 10, 2012: Auditor Receives 2 Dozen Calls Regarding School Attendance Investigation
August 9, 2012: Hotline Established For Columbus School Employees To Report Attendance Record Manipulation
August 7, 2012: Superintendent: District Did Not Manipulate Data To ‘Cheat
June 15, 2012: Columbus Schools Putting Microscope To Attendance Reporting; Inconsistencies Found