BTW investigation: options for 10 who did not meet grad requirements

Grade changing accusations surface at BTW
Shereka Kemp is a student at BTW High School. She's worried about how grade changing allegations may affect her school career.
Shereka Kemp is a student at BTW High School. She's worried about how grade changing allegations may affect her school career.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The investigation into allegations of grade changes during the 2013-2014 school year at Booker T. Washington New Tech High School continues, but Caddo schools superintendent Lamar Goree confirmed Monday morning that 10 students did not meet the required credit in order to graduate.

The findings related to students who received diplomas at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, and were part of an audit conducted by the Louisiana Department of Education and the school district. A few weeks ago, the Goree announced an investigation had been launched into accusations that several grades had been changed.

“In the coming week, we will be sitting down with these students and parents to discuss their options and create a plan that works to address their individual needs,” Goree said Monday. “Our primary focus right now is getting these students the tools they need to complete this coursework in as expedited a time frame as possible.”

The 10 students identified were mailed a certified letter informing them of options in order to make up the needed credit to correct their transcripts and be classified as Louisiana high school graduates. Those options include:

  • Turning in previously missing work to be graded by highly-qualified/certified teachers within Caddo Schools;
  • Enrolling in a Caddo virtual school program, working with a highly-qualified/certified teacher to provide instruction and assessment for course; or
  • Recovery during evenings and/or weekends or using a combination of the aforementioned in order to gain course credit.

Due to privacy laws, Caddo Schools will not release the names of affected students.

Debra Morgan two grandchildren going to BTW, and while they aren't part of the identified 10, she said she feels for those who are.

"When you get ready to graduate that's a happy feeling, that might affect them," she said. "If the student was a good student, they need to try to go back in his grade, and they could have been a good students, they need to change his grade, and go on, let him pass," she said.

Goree said just letting the students pass is not an option.

The Department of Education is in the process of auditing remaining student transcripts and will notify Caddo if any additional students require credit recovery.

In the interim, Goree also is putting in safeguards related to grade changing privileges within the district's student management system. Specifically, the district will create district-wide approval processes that will require multiple permissions before a grade will be changed.

Additionally, staff will receive additional training in the coming weeks on these new processes and procedures. Training also will be provided to all staff with access to the district's student management system.

At the July 31 press conference in which the grade changing allegations were first confirmed, Goree announced that BTW principal Stacey Russell had been placed on administrative leave, but would not specify whether the suspension was a direct result of the grade changing allegations. Monday he said there was no update on Russell's disposition, citing the ongoing investigation and asking for privacy for any personnel involved with the investigation.

Shereka Kemp is a student at BTW.

"It had messed up a whole lot of people's rosters and stuff too," she said. "It's making me think about it we're going to graduate of is the school board going to be the same like she changed it."

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