Investigation: Minimum grade of 50 at JPS? - - Jackson, MS

3OYS Investigation Update: Minimum grade of 50 at JPS?

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Jackson Public Schools denies an insider's claim that teachers are being told to round up any report card grades lower than a 50, to a 50. An educator sent us a snapshot in December of grades at that time.

The grade on the left is the actual grade the student earned, according to the teacher. The grade on the right is the grade reflected on the report card. Grades lower than 50 are rounded up to 50.

Now, 3 On Your Side has received a second snapshot of more recent grades. Grades even as low as 1 and 8 are rounded up to 50.

"I think it's almost criminal," says Medical Mall founder Dr. Aaron Shirley.

He tells us he has been getting the same type of complaints from educators who say the practice doesn't help the children, it hurts them.

"If you give just a 50 automatically, all the child has to do is show up. There's no motivation to do better," he says.

The education advocate says he's used to having his concerns fall on deaf ears among JPS administrators. He points to an August 2013 letter he sent to Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray about conditions at Lanier High School, and his intent to turn it into a charter school.

He says Dr. Gray never responded, and the school board gave him the same cold shoulder. He calls the neglect of the problems 'black on black crime'.

"If we reversed the racial makeup of the school board, Superintendent, Mayor, they were all white, we would be raising holy hell. NAACP, Children's Defense Fund," said Shirley.

Dr. Shirley plans to forge ahead and create a charter school by 2016 for any JPS high school student to attend, and he hopes parents take notice of what's going on. 

A JPS spokesman pointed us to the grading scale on the district's website. It shows that a failing grade is a 50 and below for middle and high school students, and a 69.4 and below for elementary students. It mentions nothing about a minimum grade of 50. 

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