School System Grading Probe Commences

by: Lenore T. Adkins Special to the AFRO
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Classes are back in session Sept. 6 for Prince George’s County Public Schools and officials are rolling out initiatives designed to keep students safer while probing the integrity of the district’s grading process.

The Maryland State Department of Education on Aug. 29 hired Alvarez and Marsal Public Sector Services to audit the district’s grading procedures and its graduation rates.

Digital illustration of the new Fairmonts Heights High School. (Courtesy Image)

“We’re fully cooperating with that,” public schools’ spokesman John White said, adding that the county will not tolerate any manipulation of grades.

Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell has said from the beginning that there was no systemic direction to falsify the numbers, White noted.

The contractor will deliver a report by Oct. 31. The probe is in response to allegations from several school board members that the system routinely fixed grades and gave credit to students for work and classes they didn’t deserve.

Meanwhile, the school system is taking part in the Look Up, Look Out campaign that reminds drivers to pay attention to students, and for students to look out for motorists.

In response to a substitute teacher and basketball coach who were arrested on child pornography charges in April, the county formed a taskforce in 2016 to protect students from people who don’t have criminal records but participate in criminal activities with children or around children.

“All of our employees are finger printed which triggers a criminal background check, but if you don’t have a criminal history, we want to make sure there are steps in place to protect kids from the unknown,” White said.

The system will continue to focus on four policies it implemented last year concerning school volunteers, improper relationships between students, staff, volunteers and contractors, reporting suspected child abuse and neglect and overall safety.

The county will also be opening the new Fairmont Heights High School in Capitol Heights, Md., complete with geothermal heating and cooling, a rooftop garden and an IT academy. The school is slated to open to the community and alumni of Fairmont Heights on Sept. 6.

“They are getting the modern cutting-edge school that they deserve and has been a long time coming,” White said.

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