Alabama School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice confirms that a state-level investigation will be made regarding allegations that grade changing has been systematic in the Montgomery Public Schools system.
Dr. Bice released the following statement Friday:
"In response to the allegations of systemic grade changes within the Montgomery Public School System, Superintendent Barbara Thompson has asked the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to become involved in the investigative process. ALSDE and our Alabama State Board of Education hold academic integrity as a fundamental standard upon which our entire system of public education is based. Any possible breach of that standard is unacceptable and will be pursued aggressively and followed by appropriate sanctions should the allegations be substantiated.
Our investigation begins immediately and will be conducted in coordination with the independent investigation being pursued by the Montgomery County School Board. The investigation will continue until an acceptable resolution is reached with our primary focus on any negative impact the alleged actions may have had on the students of the Montgomery County Public School System—a concern shared by Superintendent Thompson and the Montgomery County School Board."
The state's announcement follows Superintendent Thompson's announcement on Wednesday that she will ask the school board for permission to hire an external investigator to look into the allegations.
Thompson says the allegations weren't brought to the central office, rather they were made to other sources, including the Montgomery Advertiser.
"If we had more specific information we would gladly go back and investigate teachers and students and grade changes, we can easily do that in our system,' Thompson said. "Which is why we think using the state department and the external investigator would give us very good information."
Dr. Lesa Keith, the former head of the Social Studies department at Lee High School, said some MPS administrators were aware of the allegations before the Advertiser's report.
"They knew something was going on, they sent someone to tell us you changed these grades to 80s, and we didn't tell you that," Dr. Keith said. "They did tell us that. They really did tell us that.
Thompson said she wasn't made aware of issues under after teachers were transferred from Lee during a massive restructuring of the school. She stressed that restructuring had nothing to do with any grade changing allegations.
Stay with WSFA 12 News and www.wsfa.com for the very latest on this investigation.
Copyright 2012 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street