FBI Investigation Needed in Louisiana Dept. of Education

Ohio being investigated by FBI for student-data manipulation. Plus see the link for a similar El Paso, Texas, investigation with the entire time line of documentation.  Time for an investigation of the school performance score manipulation (along with contracts, federal funds through NSNO, and other issues) by our Louisiana Department Of Education.  It not only hurts the children but influences federal and state funding using taxpayer dollars - fraudulent acquisition and use of taxpayer funds is a crime. Anyone with information or input, please contact me.

FBI looking into more than school data scandal | The Columbus Dispatch

EPISD holds off on firing of administrator - El Paso Times

By  Jennifer Smith Richards
The Columbus Dispatch Sunday February 17, 2013 8:58 AM
The FBI, which is investigating student-data manipulation in the Columbus school district, also is examining possible contract fraud and bid-rigging, sources close to the investigation say.
The sources could not say who is believed to have engaged in improper contract practices or what the contracts were for, though they do not appear to be directly related to academics or the student-data scandal. The sources spoke with The Dispatch on the condition that they wouldn’t be named.
District spokesman Jeff Warner said Columbus City Schools officials did not know about a second area of investigation and couldn’t confirm that it exists. Superintendent Gene Harris declined to comment. Warner said in a written statement that the district has been and will continue to cooperate with authorities.
State Auditor Dave Yost, whose office is investigating Columbus’ student-data practices, would not say whether it also is looking at how contracts were bid and awarded.
Yost said Columbus is unlike any of the other eight districts that were found to have “scrubbed” data, perhaps in an attempt to improve their report-card ratings. He used new language last week to describe what sets the district apart: The people who manipulated data in Columbus had “intent to deceive” the Ohio Department of Education and parents.
“The evidence has become more robust,” he said.
Several people close to the investigation have begun comparing Columbus’ scandal to one in El Paso, Texas, and say the addition of an investigation into contract fraud makes the two even more similar. El Paso also involved widespread manipulation of student data as well as fraud, according to indictments, transcripts and other public records kept by the office of the U.S. attorney for western Texas.
District workers manipulated data reported to the state and federal education departments so that the district would appear to have made academic progress. Some 10th-graders, who, like those in Ohio, must pass a standardized test to graduate, were reclassified as either freshmen or juniors so they wouldn’t take the test until staff members were more confident that they could pass.
In Columbus, Internal Auditor Carolyn Smith found that a few sophomores who took the Ohio Graduation Test later were demoted to ninth grade without explanation.
In El Paso, some students’ grades were changed from passing to failing so that, on paper, they lacked credits to be a sophomore and were ineligible to take the test; their scores were discounted. Investigators in Columbus haven’t said whether the district’s grade-changing was from passing to failing or the other way around, though district logs of grade changes show tens of thousands of changes both ways in a single year. Many likely are legitimate. Both El Paso and Columbus have relied on so-called credit recovery programs to help students earn the credits they need to graduate. Students can take online versions of courses and earn credit in days or weeks.
There are sensational elements to El Paso’s scandal that don’t appear to be at play in Columbus. For example, the superintendent in El Paso at the time, Lorenzo Garcia, steered a nearly $500,000 contract to a woman he had a relationship with. He’s now serving more than three years in federal prison for that offense and his role in the student-data fraud.El Paso staff members also prevented students whom they viewed as undesirable from enrolling at all while advising other students to leave El Paso schools. There’s no evidence that Columbus has done that.The U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general investigated alongside the FBI in El Paso. Yost said that office will investigate “scrubbing” in Ohio, too.
Harris has been adamant that she knew nothing of Columbus’ practice of withdrawing and then re-enrolling students with many absences, even though some of her highest-level administrators did. Absences and test scores of children who aren’t continuously enrolled from October through spring, when they take state standardized tests, aren’t included in report-card calculations for the school or district. Harris has not commented publicly about the grade-changing allegations.
“There is no reason that I would direct or stand behind any of this,” she said early on in the investigations. “There is no way I would condone this.”
More recently, she has stopped acknowledging that data were manipulated under her watch. She has publicly dismissed as mistakes or misunderstandings the findings of her internal auditor and the state auditor.

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