Superintendent: 7 now on admin. leave in wake of grade changing - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Superintendent: 7 now on admin. leave in wake of grade changing investigation

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MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson discusses the results of an investigation into grade changing allegations. MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson discusses the results of an investigation into grade changing allegations.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Montgomery Public School Superintendent Barbara Thompson called a press conference Tuesday morning to announce the findings of the state's investigation into grade changing allegations in the Montgomery Public School District.

Thompson announced that she had spoken with State School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice. Bice told her the state did find evidence of grade changing in Montgomery Public Schools.

"Grades and things were altered and changed," said Thompson. "However, this impacted a small number of students. We want to make sure we take responsibility for what we discovered."

Thompson added that seven people have been placed on administrative leave while the state continues to look into the alleged grade changing. Out of 32,000 students in the system, Thompson says 200 students' grades were affected.

When reached for comment on the investigation, Dr. Michael Sibley, Director of Communications for the Alabama Department of Education said, "We completed the investigation, confirmed the allegations of grade changes, shared it with the board, and advised them on specific expected actions. We do not have any further comment, as  we do not want to impede possible personnel and legal actions."

Thompson said that the grade changes did not affect AYP results or other scores for the Montgomery Public School District. "This was not systemic, this was not system wide. It was in a few schools," said Thompson.

The district and the state will continue to look into the allegations and possible consequences for those involved up to a possible dismissal and loss of licenses for those seven individuals.

Thompson also stated that it appears as if administrators were pressuring teachers to make the grade changes.

"This was not a student issue," said Thompson. "It was an administrator issue."

Thompson could not elaborate on the specific schools involved or the reason as to why the grades were changed.

After the press conference, Thompson said the schools involved were Jeff Davis, Robert E. Lee and Sidney Lanier, but school spokeswoman Mona Davis later said that was not the case.

Another school spokesman, Tom Salter, said the only thing he will confirm is that grade changing was not found at Jeff Davis High School, "under this administration". When pressed on the statement, Salter would not elaborate.


Release from MPS:

Grade Investigation Results Discussed 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The grade change allegations made by certain Montgomery Public School teachers and reported by the 'Montgomery Advertiser' resulted in Superintendent Barbara W. Thompson requesting separate investigations by the Montgomery County Board of Education and the state Superintendent of Education. Those investigations have now been completed and have revealed that a small group of employees did in fact violate MPS policies and procedures by unsuccessfully attempting to pressure teachers to make grade changes and ultimately made or directed changes themselves.  

As a result, seven employees were immediately being placed on administrative leave pending potential disciplinary action by the Board and/or possible revocation of the individual's certification by the state Superintendent of Education. Either of these actions could result in the loss of their jobs. Because these employees have the right to defend themselves, neither the investigative reports nor the employee's names will be released until they have had the opportunity to clear their names as required by law.  

The investigations also revealed, a fact affirmed by state Superintendent Bice, that the MPS grade and credit recovery program guidelines and polices were "clear and strong and left no room for question." Additionally, Superintendent Bice indicated that neither classroom teachers nor Superintendent Thompson were implicated by the investigations.  

The investigations revealed approximated two hundred students – one half of one percent of high school students – had grades improperly changed.  

"Despite this regrettable incident, this matter should not be a reflection on the many fine classroom teachers and administrators that education students in this district," said Superintendent Thompson. "This should not reflect negatively on the good work done by the vast majority of students, teachers and administrators of MPS." 

MPS Board President Eleanor Dawkins agreed.  

"The Montgomery County School Board would like to thank the superintendent for the prompt investigation of these allegations," said President Dawkins.  "The two separate investigations have come to the same conclusion.  As a result, we will follow Board policy and take appropriate and necessary disciplinary action.  We want to thank the teachers and administrators for their hard work and dedication for academic integrity.  Our Board is unified in protecting the academic integrity of this district for the benefits of the students we serve." 

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