North Atlanta High School in Buckhead is being investigated for possible improper grade changing, a spokesman for Atlanta Public Schools confirmed Saturday.
The school system’s Office of Internal Compliance is investigating the issue, spokesman Stephen Alford said. Investigators responded to anonymous tips that grades were illegally changed, he said. Alford said he did not know when the probe started and had little information on the case.
“It’s pure speculation,” he said. “All we know is there is an investigation for grade changing. It could mean anything.”
Alford declined further comment on the issue because it’s an ongoing investigation, but said the school system installed tougher standards after the 2009 CRCT cheating scandal. North Atlanta was not implicated in the scandal, but about 180 educators in the district’s other schools were.
Chandler Rudd is a board member with the North Atlanta High School Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm, and his son John is a junior at the school. Rudd reacted to the allegations.
“What I know is that the rule is any given week, there are a slew of legitimate reasons why grades would be changed, ranging from changing a grade from a 99 to a 100 due to a mistake to a teacher having problems with the [school's] software,” he said. “There’s a form that the registrar gives the teacher. The teacher has to get approval from the academic leader first [to change a grade]. Only the registrar has the power to change grades. Is there pressure from parents to change grades? Yes, but I don’t see that happening without the registrar’s approval.
“The thing I find most disconcerting about it is we’re dealing with anonymous allegations. ... We don’t know what the problem is. Otherwise, it keeps everybody on edge because people don’t know what will happen next.”
The investigation is the latest problem for North Atlanta. Oct. 5, just four days after the district’s school board approved the hiring of new Principal Howard “Gene” Taylor, the school’s six leaders, including interim Principal Mark MyGrant, were abruptly removed by district officials and replaced with a transition team. The team has been in place for the past three weeks; Taylor starts at North Atlanta Monday.
Oct. 9, Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis addressed parents, students, teachers and staff at the school, saying one of the reasons for the move was the school has been underperforming academically, sparking criticism from the school’s community. The next day, the first day of classes following the leadership removal and meeting due to the Columbus Day holiday and a teacher professional learning day, some students walked out of classes in protest.
Three days later, language arts teacher Amy Durham, who has been accused of racism but denied the charges, resigned.
Monday, the school board decided to delay voting to renew Davis’ contract, which expires June 30 but includes a provision requiring the board to vote by Dec. 31 whether or not to renew it. The board will vote on the contract in December.