Reaction: State Investigates Allegations of Grade Changing at Mtgy Schools

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By Jessica Gertler

From Montgomery -- New information into possible grade changing at Montgomery Public Schools. The Alabama State Department of Education will now conduct a separate investigation.

This comes after allegations were made that teachers and administrators gave students passing grades at three separate high schools.

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice says the investigation will start immediately, which school board members are pleased with. Some members say the allegations are a concern for parents and students.  

"It's very sad. I'm very concerned for the sake of the school system," says School Board President Charlotte Meadows.

The news shocked Meadows. Allegations that grades were being changed at three Montgomery schools has never happened before.

"If it were teachers that felt like they were being told by someone above them that they had to do this then that's the part that concerns me," she says. "If the administrators are still in the school system, we need to get to the bottom of that."

Current and former teachers who worked at Lee, Jeff Davis and Lanier High Schools say they've witnessed or participated in improper grade changing for hundreds of failing students in the last two years.

But Superintendent Barbra Thompson says her administration has never received a complaint, and believes the number of grades changed would not have affected AYP scores or graduation rates.

"I would imagine if they found something that was a real impropriety, they could be looking at their teacher's license. It's a serious situation," she says.

Jeffery Sellers' son attends Lee High School.

"They don't need to be doing that. It's against the law to go in and change grades for students," he says.

In addition to State Board of Education's investigation, Thompson is asking the school board to hire a former FBI agent to look into the matter.

"We are bringing in somebody externally that I don't know," she says.

But Meadows wants an outside party to hire an investigator.

"I'm not sure that the public will accept a report from a private investigator hired by Montgomery Public Schools to report on Montgomery Public Schools."

Thompson says the board will spend up to $10,000 on the investigator, but believes it will be far less than that. She says the investigation should be fairly quick.

The school board will hold a meeting Tuesday at noon to vote on whether or not the board will hire retired FBI agent John Mulligan to investigate the matter. Barbara Thompson says Mulligan was recommended by the school board's attorneys.
 

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