Lockland schools in session after enrollment scandal

LOCKLAND, OH (FOX19) - More than 600 Lockland students headed back to school Wednesday.

"We're excited to be here, mom and dad are excited to have them in school, and we're ready to go," said interim superintendent Dr. Dan Lawler.

Parents may be looking forward to the year ahead, but looking back they haven't forgotten the shock of the summertime scandal.

The Ohio Department of Education investigation found Lockland filed false attendance data to help improve its state testing results. 36 students were reported as having left the district when in fact, they never did. With the lower numbers Lockland achieved an overall effective rating. In response to the investigation, Lockland was labeled as an "at risk" district.

"Wow," parent Camille Robb recalled. "But it's an allegation; I don't know all of the details behind it."

"If you're hiding things like this, what aren't you hiding?" parent Jason Dickerson remembers questioning.

Dickerson was initially concerned, but says teachers have since eased his fears.

"They were aware that some of us were going to be skeptical, especially some of us that are newer to the district like myself," he said. "My kids are coming from the Sharonville area, you know, this was a big shock to us. So, I was very, very satisfied."

"It's still a good school and they still, I think, generally care about the children," Robb argued.

"Honestly at this point my impression is that there were a few people who decided to do something that they thought they were going to get away with to make a bigger picture look better," Dickerson said. "The big picture really is not that bad."

"We've not addressed it, really, with the parents," Dr. Lawler said. "We're just going about it business as usual and like I said, teachers are excited to get started and to get back to what they do best."

Lawler says enrollment has remained roughly the same compared to last year.

"I haven't gotten any calls from any parents about it," he said. "All of the calls have been typical: 'When does school start?' 'Can I get my student enrolled?'"

As for the teachers, Lawler says they seem to be moving on as well.

"It happened over the summer and the teachers weren't here so they were kind of apprehensive about what it was going to be like and once they got here," Lawler said. "Their friends were here, and their colleagues, and now that the students have shown up its business as usual."

Not everyone is so quick to move on, however.

"I feel that it's really bad and I hope that something good comes out of the whole situation and they get it under control or figure it out," family member LaShanda Lampkin said.

According to numbers provided by school officials, the district's enrollment numbers are only about 20 students off from what they reported last year. Lawler says those numbers can drop, however, as they get confirmation students have enrolled in other districts.

The district's attorney says there is no current timetable for wrapping up the internal investigation. Until then, the district will continue to pay both the interim superintendent and the employees on administrative leave. The district is paying Hamilton County Educational Services Center $525 dollars a day for the interim superintendent which is a required position to fill. Only specially licensed educators can fill that role and the district's attorney says no one within the district was qualified.

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