Susan Moxley explains class-size problems

Who did she talk with?

Was this one of our news reporters?

Was this our Mouse cartoonist?

How many people were able to comment, question or correct her statement?

What ever happened to the good old days when the buck stops at the top?

Never an apology from her always a pass the buck down or up the latter?

I find this the following story so full of holes, unanswered questions, questionable statements and a must to read between the lines that, if this was my newspaper, I would be so ashamed seeing this in print!


“In a half-hour interview with the Daily Commercial Friday, Lake County Superintendent of Schools Susan Moxley talked about the class-size controversy that has irritated her bosses on the School Board and drawn criticism from some in the community.

You may recall that the controversy erupted early last year when a whistleblower complained that Lake schools were under-reporting their class size numbers — in defiance of the state’s class-size law — to avoid fines.

A consultant hired by the School Board to review the issue discovered that district officials did indeed report inaccurate numbers and that more than 160 teachers said they were made to sign class-size reports they knew to be inaccurate.

However, rather than hitting Lake schools with a big fine, the Florida Department of Education agreed with the district’s argument that the student population in Lake was growing too fast for the district to keep pace with, so it waived the fines.

But the next time the district reported its class size numbers to the state at the end of 2014, the data showed the district exceed the class-size caps by a lot and the Department of Education announced it would levy a $1.2 million fine.

Then the district “corrected” its data and the state lowered the fine to about $160,000.

On Friday, Moxley explained.

She insisted that district officials never fibbed to the state about the sizes of Lake County’s classes. Rather, she said, the miscounts that were reported to the DOE last year were based on “misinterpretations” of the rules by the district.

As an example, she noted that the under the state’s counting formula, the DOE permits schools to count non-teachers — athletic coaches, for instance — among those who supervise students.

But Moxley said those rules are somewhat confusing, so over-counting non-teachers could cause an inadvertent underreporting of class sizes.

Moxley said she took a number of steps to ensure the problem didn’t arise again when the class-size count was performed in October last year.

She named an administrator to oversee the count, put in place new policies governing how to do it, and put out a directive that employees were not to sign class-size reports that are inaccurate.

“I wanted the employees to know that is not only an avenue, but an expectation,” she said.

Moxley said she and her administrators even fanned out across the district during the counting period in October to spot-check the counts.

Yet, when it came time to report the count to the state, Lake’s numbers were huge, and the DOE announced the million-dollar fine.

Moxley said the district’s classes were not actually as large as they reported and blamed a “coding” error.

On Friday, she clarified. Moxley said that at East Ridge Middle School, for instance, some students who take both online and traditional classes were counted twice.

And in another case, two home rooms were inadvertently combined into one, making it appear as if it was one large class.

Lake County school officials have explained.

But after two straight years of mistakes — and two brushes with massive fines — we hope and trust that they have remedied the problem.”

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