Originally created 09/25/96

Principals warned not to pad grades



Teachers at two Richmond County schools believe they have to pass students who failed during the first six weeks of the year, administrators confirmed Tuesday.

The schools - T.W. Josey High and East Augusta Middle - immediately put a stop to the "misconceptions" and all Richmond County principals were warned during a Tuesday meeting not to allow inflated grades, Deputy Superintendent Gene Sullivan said.

The first six-week grading period ends this week and no grades have gone out this school year, Josey Principal Richard Johnson said.

Mr. Sullivan and Associate Superintendent Willie Mazyck investigated rumors of inflated grades after a Saturday brunch where Josey teacher Donna Arauz complained about the practice to state school Superintendent Linda Schrenko and about 40 businesswomen.

"I literally cannot fail any of my freshman students," said Ms. Arauz, a first-year English teacher who is also Miss Augusta. "If a kid comes to class one day and does nothing, he gets a 70."

In the Richmond County grading system, a 70 is a D and a 69 is an F.

At Josey, the instructions were to pad only failing freshman students' grades during the first six-week grading period, Mr. Sullivan said. There was never a formal policy, but teachers and an administrator had an unofficial understanding, he said.

"An assistant principal told (Ms. Arauz) you shouldn't give them less than a 70 in the first six weeks of the grading period, because that'll help them not to fail," Mr. Sullivan said. "It was just an overzealous assistant principal trying to do some things to help some kids and the principal didn't even know about it."

Mr. Johnson said the problem was a "miscommunication"that had not happened in previous years. "Grades have not been given out and this has not gone on," he said.

At East Augusta, "It was a very similar kind of thing ... kind of haphazard thing," Mr. Sullivan said.

East Augusta Principal Eddie Robertson said "There is no confusion. And that's about all I can say."

No one has been disciplined for insisting upon or handing out inflated grades and Superintendent Charles Larke said he would need an investigation to determine if anyone deserved punishment.

"I guess what some of them were saying is if you give (students) a grade of zero, it eliminates all hope of passing," Dr. Larke said. "But you just don't give grades. And administrators cannot demand that a teacher give a grade or pass a child."

School trustees also brought up the issue of padded grades during the Sept. 12 board meeting, but were assured no students were receiving grades they didn't earn.

"I hope that everything is straightened out at this point," said trustee Cherie Foster.

The grades on report cards should be accurate since the inflated grades were discovered early, Mr. Sullivan said.

"It wasn't reality across the board," he said. And, "I think we got that nipped in the bud."