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CCS: Cleaning House or Sweeping Under the Rug?

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott CCS: Cleaning House or Sweeping Under the Rug?Photo by Walker Evans.
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Last summer, the local newspaper headlines read, “New Columbus schools chief says he’s cleaning house”.

At the time, Dr. Dan Good had just taken the reigns of Columbus City Schools from retiring Superintendent Gene Harris. During her tenure, the Columbus City Schools team “house” looked something like this:

chart

Almost a year after the “cleaning house” announcement, and months after the state auditor Dave Yost described the district as having a “bunker culture” of deceit where “adults cheated”, the new Columbus City Schools team “house” looks something like this:

shuffle

The full document can be found HERE (PDF).

The changes look more like re-arranging furniture than house-cleaning. Of course, the art of “cleaning house” is no easy task. Attached to all the little boxes in an organizational flowchart are names of human beings with real human lives. More importantly, those real human beings have contracts with Columbus City Schools.

But in terms of creating real change for the school system, the decisions have been a disappointment for families.

Heather Roush has two children in Columbus City Schools, and she acknowledges, “It is disappointing that even after his promises of cleaning house and doing away with the corruption, Dr. Good has done nothing but circle the wagons, protect liars and completely shut parents and the community out. Dr. Good is either incredibly naïve to the corruption or he just doesn’t care. I am not sure which is worse.”

Rousch continues, “This is no different than reshuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. CCS is nothing more than an employment agency. They are not concerned with students, only their employees.”

A former member of the Board of Education makes similar observations about the past year. Steph Groce is also a parent and noted, “After the crushing defeat of the levy and the release of the Auditor’s report, the board pledged to embark on ‘listening tours.’ It’s disappointing that we’re still waiting.”

Groce added, “Our emails to board members go unanswered. Requests for information are ignored. Often, answers from administrators are inconsistent with policies and information posted on the district website. Many parents are afraid to challenge decisions for fear of retaliation. The only change we see is in the wrong direction.”

There have been some changes in leadership staffing at CCS. The departures of Steve Tankovich, Michael Dodds and Amy Dennis made headlines. In a district that recorded 271 administrators in 2012, it’s remarkable to think that a corrupt “culture” could be caused by so few.

Meanwhile, while names have moved around on the organizational flowchart, the leadership structure appears to be comprised of the same administrators who served for Dr. Harris, albeit occasionally with different duties

At least the Columbus City Schools auditor remains. Carolyn Smith, recipient of a state hero award for her work with the system, will surely be busy.

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