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Rep. Smith: Data scrubbing scandal merits official investigation

Former school board member says superintendent conduct unacceptable
July 21, 2015
Democrat Newsroom

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today joined the growing chorus urging the state auditor to launch an official investigation into reports that officials at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) illegally manipulated a key evaluation of charter school oversight agencies by omitting failing grades from many online charters.

In a letter sent to State Auditor Dave Yost yesterday afternoon, the Euclid lawmaker expressed dismay at the violation of the law by ODE officials, saying: “[appointees] have a duty to follow the law and execute their public responsibility to the benefit of the 11 million residents of our state. I do not believe the data scrubbing actions undertaken by certain ODE individuals is in the best interest of Ohioans.”

Rep. Smith, who served as member of the Euclid Board of Education for over a decade before joining the legislature, also today called on the State Board of Education to remove Superintendent Dick Ross due not only to the data scrubbing scandal but also his involvement in crafting the secret takeover of the Youngstown city schools, as reported in yesterday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“As a 12-year Euclid City School Board Member, I was involved in many significant decisions that affected thousands of students. The more important the issue, the longer the board and the superintendent would deliberate and gather input from Euclid citizens,” said Smith. “If a superintendent ever would have crafted a plan in secret that affected as many lives as the Youngstown takeover, that superintendent would not have made it our next board meeting. Public school leadership requires at the very least the input of the public’s elected representatives, if not the general public itself.”

Smith also pointed out that the mayor of Youngstown is opposed the takeover of the Youngstown schools.

Over 5,000 students are enrolled in the Euclid public school system. Rep. Smith served as a member of the Euclid Board of Education from 2002 to 2013. He is a 4-time winner of the “Award of Achievement,” which is awarded annually to less than 3% of all school board members in Ohio. He was first elected to school board in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009.