Wednesday, May 14, 2014

MNPS: Boys Prep Inflated Enrollment Numbers

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Enrollment data entry fraud was one of three reasons for closing Boys Prep, according to Metro Nashville Public Schools officials.

In emails obtained by the Scene, other issues included problems meeting education plans for special education students and concerns over the school’s enrollment and finances, according to Alan Coverstone, who oversees the district’s charter schools as director of the MNPS Office of Innovation.

“The degree to which they knew what they were doing and being intentional or sneaky about it, they knew what they were doing. I think there was little evidence they were sneaky about it,” said Coverstone, "It just doesn’t matter. It affects people and it disrupts the system and we had to correct it."

In an email to school board members almost a week after Boys Prep’s school board relinquished its 10-year charter, director of schools Jesse Register detailed the reasons for closure as including “enrollment data entry fraud.”

Coverstone said the school had pushed to get families to come to the school and apply, but school officials this spring instead logged in the students as having applied to or chosen to attend Boys Prep. Those moves resulted in the district bumping those students off other school-choice lotteries and wait lists, he said.

Metro Nashville’s office of student assignment investigated the changes, Coverstone said. Of the 68 entries made, he said, more than 10 were found to be faulty.

He said the district received complaints that special education students with Individualized Education Programs, known as IEPs, were not being met. He said the district was also looking into whether teachers had adequate special education certification.

The district began investigating the two concerns, expecting to report back to the district May 2. Boys Prep gave up its charter on April 30.

In other business, the board also debated the role of so-called “high-stakes” testing and voted down a wide-ranging resolution calling for changes in the emphasis the state and district puts on testing.

Also, in a series of tied votes, the board has put off whether to hire an outside firm to set up a financial capacity model to determine the district’s ability to take on new charters. The firm, MGT of America, Inc., had promised a quick turnaround, which could come in time for this school year’s round of charter school approvals.

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