Investigation finds grading, attendance irregularities at University HS

Cheating at a Waco High School...but not at the hand of students.

WACO - An internal and external investigations on University High School found discrepancies in reporting grades and attendance.

Waco ISD sent out a press release Wednesday stating Law Firm Walsh-Gallegos reviewed interviews of 31 campus employees conducted by Waco ISD’s Internal Investigator, plus educational record of 149 UHS students. The external investigators talked to 24 more District employees by phone and spoke to 10 employees in person. STAAR End-of-Course testing, attendance, testing procedures, and laws and policies regarding attendance-based and substantive credit recovery were also reviewed by investigators.

The investigations found some UHS seniors graduated in June without meeting state requirements. The principal, dean, and head counselor have been on paid leave since the early stages of investigations.

On June 3, 2016, a day before University High School’s graduation ceremony, the district first received notice of some “fatal errors” in computerized grade/attendance reports.

The discovered irregularities involved proper procedures not being followed in making up credit for excessive absences or unacceptable course work; an Individual Graduation Committee(IGC) lowered the standard for end of course work that would be acceptable to graduate; and whether students were properly administered state-allowed opportunities to re-test

Six days later the Board of Trustees hired the law firm of Walsh-Gallegos to conduct an independent investigation on the school.

The firm turned in its findings on Tuesday, October 18 to Waco ISD Board of Trustees, Superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain and District administrators. 

Walsh-Gallegos' findings:

 Irregularities in the Individual Graduation Committee process:

o  English 1 & 2 IGC’s did not have the UHS dept. chair on the committee, and the 
person who led that IGC did not have a secondary English teaching certificate
o  The standards for passing the English projects were lowered and projects were 
then re-graded 
o  At least three students who failed or did not take three End of Course tests (the 
maximum the state allows is two) participated and graduated through the IGC
process (individual projects)
o  Three students who engaged in plagiarism were allowed to re-do portions of their 
English projects and received the necessary grades to graduate
 
 
Credit Recovery (previously failed course work)
 
o  Some students went from a failing grade to a passing grade after only a few hours 
work in the online credit recovery curriculum offered at UHS
 
Waco ISD officials said students involved will get to keep their diplomas because it was the fault of the adults.

(© 2016 KCEN)


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