While the Ohio Auditor is investigating attendance practices in districts across the state, the Ohio Department of Education (also a target of the investigation) continues to deny any culpability for the entire affair.  Instead, ODE spokesperson John Charlton has repeatedly defended the department’s actions as top notch and crystal clear.

From StateImpact Ohio:

Charlton says there should be no confusion about how to enter absentee data.

“The Ohio Revised Code clearly defines what a withdrawn student is,” he says. “I think if superintendents and school employees follow the revised code they’ll have no problem answering the questions and entering the data properly into our system.”

From the Toledo Blade:

John Charlton, an education department spokesman, strongly disputed that the department hadn’t provided proper guidance on how to report data. “The Ohio Department of Education welcomes any opportunity to review our processes for improvement when warranted.”

From NBC4 Columbus:

“You know, we require that they be submitted accurately, so be accurate. And, like I said, there is not much ambiguity in the law. Look at it. Look at the procedures,” Charlton said.

Again from the Toledo Blade:

State education officials say their Education Management Information System handbook and the Ohio Revised Code are unambiguous when it comes to reporting data.

“We also are hearing from several superintendents that the ORC and the EMIS Manual is very clear,” said John Charlton, the spokesman for the education department.

Clear? Unambiguous?  If we only listened to the ODE spokesman we wouldn’t be sure whether a district should be focusing on the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) or whether ODE’s own EMIS Manual holds the key to this information.

Since the new school year has begun for most schools throughout the state, we thought we would take a fresh look at the clearly defined, unambiguous guidelines published by the Ohio Department of Education.  The state’s EMIS Manual has obviously taken on greater importance over the summer and we districts should be able to expect it to provide greater clarity on their attendance reporting practices for this school year.

Here is what we found when we went to the ODE website to access Chapter 2 of the EMIS Manual, the section that clearly spells out the reporting of student data:

Nothing.  A blank document.  That’s right, the Ohio Department of Education has apparently scrubbed that clearly defined and unambiguous student attendance manual they kept bragging about, leaving schools to guess what the guidelines will be for the current school year and in the position to necessarily adjust their data retroactively to accommodate any changes that ODE publishes when they can be bothered to get around to it.

Not that the reporting of student attendance is a big deal or anything.
UPDATE:  It appears the Chapter 2, the Student Data section of the EMIS Manual, was updated and made available last night in MS Word format.  The .pdf version is still not available.