CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon is appointing a committee to review attendance recordkeeping in light of criticism from State Auditor David Yost.
"We expect to have this team in place next week with the goal of improving our attendance reporting processes. In the meantime, we will continue the critical work of raising student achievement through academic, legislative and systemic reforms," Gordon said, in a release late Friday.
Following the release of the State Auditor's report Thursday, the district and Gordon acknowledged flaws in existing practices, policies and procedures used in collection of enrollment data. They also accepted the recommendations to improve current practices by keeping the recommended paper records in addition to our computerized records.
"What I did not accept, and will not accept, is the implication that the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's attendance reporting was done purposefully or with intent to falsely earn higher scores on our state report cards than we deserve," Gordon said.
"The review therefore goes beyond the scope of an audit, with a presumption of CMSD's intentional manipulation of data in what the audit report, itself, cites as a flawed system at both the state and local level."
Gordon said the CMSD is a large, complex urban district where one out of three students moves during the school year. The collection of attendance data is therefore challenging, he said, not only because of the high mobility of our students, but also because a large number of our students choose to transfer to a charter school or into a different district.
"Given the District's strict whistleblower policy, created as part of a protracted effort to ensure the highest work ethic in our organization, I deeply dispute even the implication that anyone on my staff acted in bad faith," Gordon said.
"While we remain perplexed that we were unable to obtain clarification from auditors of numbers that clearly do not add up in their report, what is most important to me and to my staff is where we go from here and how we correct the way we collect our data to avoid even the appearance of improper record keeping, going forward."
Gordon said he will be consulting with Mayor Frank Jackson in appointing the committee and will include members of CMSD's External Audit Committee to ensure that recommendations are quickly and appropriately addressed.