Have you ever seen those episodes of Law & Order or a similar police drama where the detectives bring their prime suspect into the interrogation room and start to put on the pressure? They reach that point where they don’t actually have enough information to arrest the suspect, but in the interest of drama (and a 60-minute time slot) the detectives keep pushing, culminating with a line to the effect of “You need to help yourself by talking to somebody.” On television, since that prime suspect is always guilty of the crime, the corny line always seems to result in that magical confession that moves the drama along to the next half-hour and the prosecuting attorneys.
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost obviously watches too many crime dramas.
Yost’s office is leading the statewide investigation into student attendance practices that isn’t turning up the cheating or fraud that the Columbus Dispatch has led him to believe is rampant throughout Ohio’s school districts.
Last week, Yost sent a letter out to districts encouraging them to come clean about fraudulent practices. His biased perspective on this supposedly objective investigation is very troubling in its assumption of guilt instead of truly trying to uncover what, if any, problems actually exist.
In his letter, Yost threatens district with a deadline to receive his generosity:
The time to tell the truth is now. Voluntary self-reporting demonstrates good intentions and will help separate those who acted in good faith from those who acted with fraudulent intent.
This office will be an advocate for those who self-report attendance irregularities on or before 4 p.m. Monday, August 20.
Why would innocent people following state guidelines ever need the Auditor to act as their advocate? Again, Yost is presuming guilt instead of trying to learn about the documented procedures for attendance prescribed by the Ohio Department of Education.
Continuing on his revelation of his office’s presumption of guilt, Yost remarked that if districts didn’t understand that what they were doing was wrong, he will defend them before the state or federal education departments. That’s right, he’s already willing to step up and defend districts in a bid to solicit confessions from districts while having no information that laws have ever been broken.
And finally, like the detectives in our police drama who need will only solve a case if they actually have a criminal confess to breaking the law, Yost pleads for someone to provide him with some evidence to fit the stories he’s been told.
We believe that there may be some folks out there that have been taking improper action in good faith. We want to give those folks an opportunity to show that good faith by self-reporting. This is no different than a police officer saying, ‘You need to help yourself by talking to somebody.’
We believe is how he begins that silly public statement, but all we heard was:
“Please, despite our strong public statements about this massive investigation with millions and millions of data points we’re actually finding nothing wrong and desperately need someone to confess that a crime, any crime, has occurred.”