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North Atlanta investigation reveals no illegal conduct
by Megan Thornton
September 20, 2013 02:25 PM | 2091 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Following allegations of racism and improper grade changing at North Atlanta High School in Buckhead, an independent auditor’s investigative summary found none of the allegations were substantiated — at least not enough to break the law.

The 166-page report, released to the media Friday morning, said there was no evidence to support grades were improperly changed due to race discrimination or otherwise. However, both student testimony and statistical data overwhelmingly pointed to “racial disparity and disharmony that should not be ignored,” according to the report compiled by Atlanta Public School’s Office of Internal Compliance.

“To do so would severely harm students who have bravely asserted their claims and are hopeful that their concerns will be addressed,” Special Investigations Manager Doreen Oliver wrote in the report.

Complainants alleged African-American students were singled out for discipline and received failing or lower grades than their white counterparts. Others stated teachers and administrators made derogatory racial comments and minority students were often not made aware of college recruitment opportunities.

The investigation took place after these allegations were made in 2011 and 2012, with the majority made in fall 2012 while Mark MyGrant was serving as principal. In mid-October, about two weeks after Howard “Gene” Taylor was named the new principal, effective Oct. 31, MyGrant and five members of his leadership team were removed from the school by Superintendent Erroll Davis due to alleged improper grade changing.

Through interviewing 114 students, investigators found 37 African-American students claimed racial discrimination occurred at North Atlanta, while only two white students, three Hispanic students and one multi-racial student said the same, according to the report.

“At the very least, perhaps the entire faculty and student population of NAHS could benefit from some form of sensitivity/tolerance training to address the race perception described above,” the report states.

The district issued a statement Friday saying though no laws were broken, the report raised issues that should have been addressed at the school. Aside from the racial disparity, the investigation discovered a widespread failure by the administration to enforce district policy for teachers to report grades in a timely manner.

“Now in place is a new principal [Taylor], who has already begun to work on the issues, and we are confident that we can all return to the business of educating children,” district spokeswoman Kimberly Willis-Green said in the statement.

Taylor announced Thursday he would remain at the high school after submitting his resignation last week.

What’s next: No North Atlanta employees will be punished for the alleged improper grade changing or racial discrimination, but some may take racial sensitivity/tolerance training.

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