NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- Punishments were handed out Tuesday in a grade tampering scandal that occurred in New Haven last year.
The following is a release from New Haven Public Schools detailing Superintendent Mayo's issuance of discipline for administrators and staff who were involved in grade and credit tampering at Hillhouse High School:
Last fall, Hillhouse High School Assistant Principal Shirley Love Joyner made serious allegations of grade tampering and preferential treatment of student-athletes at Hillhouse. Due to the graveness of the allegations, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo immediately ordered an investigation into the matter and chose attorney Floyd Dugas to investigate and submit a report on his findings.
The investigation included reviews of student transcripts, grade reports, summer school reports and memos as well as dozens of interviews of Hillhouse and Riverside Academy staff.
None of the allegations involved tampering with state standardized tests. However, the investigation did substantiate several of Ms. Joyner's allegations and found evidence of isolated grade tampering and a culture of preferential treatment of certain student-athletes by the Hillhouse administration.
The following allegations were substantiated:
- With Principal Kermit Carolina's knowledge, Hillhouse staff member Ed Scarpa deleted a reference to summer school on two student athletes' transcripts for two classes taken at Riverside Academy summer school.
- Two Hillhouse student athletes were given preferential treatment in summer school at Riverside Academy and were awarded twice as many credits as other students, yet only had to attend class for half the amount of time.
- One student athlete missed 45 days of school and was still promoted to the 12th grade in direct violation of Hillhouse's "160 day rule."
- One student athlete was granted three school credits for work experience without confirmation that the hours were actually worked and without filling out the required form for work credits. Carolina breached protocol when he signed off on the credits without the hours first being verified.
- Carolina and other Hillhouse administrators allowed a process whereby coaches and other staff influenced grades, course selection and credits for certain students. The lack of oversight over coaches and the extraordinary efforts to adjust courses mid-year for certain students created to a culture of special treatment for certain student athletes.
Prior to issuing discipline, Superintendent Mayo met with involved staff, providing them their due process and an opportunity to respond to the allegations. He heard testimony from each staff member, including a PowerPoint presentation by Principal Kermit Carolina and his attorney.
Ultimately, Superintendent Mayo considered the evidence and the testimony and decided to take disciplinary action. The bottom line is that administrators and staff at Hillhouse and Riverside engaged in grade and credit tampering and preferential treatment of certain students. This was not a widespread problem and it seemed to focus on student athletes.
Each employee was called in to meet with Superintendent Mayo separately on Tuesday and to be informed of his or her discipline. Repeated attempts were made to reach Carolina during school hours, but he could not be located at school. He also failed to return calls to his cell phone. It was later determined he told his director he planned to leave early Tuesday.
Superintendent Mayo plans to meet with Carolina as soon as possible to issue discipline. The following discipline was handed out on Tuesday:
- Principal Gibbs - Two-day suspension without pay for misleading the investigator about the length of day for the Riverside summer school program and for allowing two student athletes to be granted double the amount of credit usually granted for summer school classes.
- Part-time administrator Ed Scarpa - Two-day suspension without pay for his role in deleting a reference to summer school for classes taken by two student athletes and adjusting school records regarding grades, credits and courses.
- Football Coach Thomas Dyer - Two-day suspension without pay for his role in course descriptions changes and granting enhanced credits for student athletes.
- Assistant Principal John Nguyen - Two-day suspension without pay for his role in adjusting school records regarding grades, credits and courses.
Superintendent Mayo said his expectation is that school leaders will focus on creating a culture of earned achievement at all schools, including but not limited to Hillhouse. Steps must be taken to ensure all students are afforded the same opportunities for courses and credits and that no one set of students ever receives preferential treatment. Specifically, Superintendent Mayo will appoint someone to do the following:
- Conduct a review of existing policies with respect to credits, courses and grading in order to confirm consistent application of the rules at all schools and report back to the Board of Education.
- Clarify summer school and credit retrieval protocols in order to confirm that academic rigor and course credit remains consistent.
- Facilitate a renewed commitment to instilling expectations of academic excellence for all students at all schools in the district.
- Oversee communication to all athletic coaches that they are not to request grade changes, course changes or credit consideration from teachers for any student.
Superintendent Mayo urged everyone involved to move on from this matter and to refocus all energy on the students.
"Mistakes were made and lessons learned from this unfortunate incident. It is time to move on. It is time to bring our focus back to what matter most, educating our children. Our mission as educators and leaders in New Haven Public Schools is to help our students succeed in the classroom, go to college and build a bright future. Any decision we make that is not in the best interest of our children is the wrong decision. Our children must always come first," Superintendent Mayo said.
He added: "We are going to review what we have currently in place at all schools in the district to see how consistent we are on grading, attendance and the application of our own rules. Students at all of our schools must be on a level playing field."
Glastonbury police have arrested a man who they say was driving drunk and couldn't find his way out of the police department's parking lot.
The holiday season makes for crowded malls and one woman had quite the disturbing experience as she headed to the West Farms Mall. She was riding a public bus when a man took her by surprise, exposing himself.
A man was beaten and a shot was fired during a New London home invasion, where a 3-year-old was present on Tuesday.
A Stamford bank was robbed Tuesday by an armed man wearing a neck brace, who claimed he had nothing to live for.
An appeal notice has been filed by the former chairman of the tribe that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino who was convicted of embezzling tribal funds.
Tuesday night many folks are making the trek home during the evening rush hour and state police have some simple advice, which is take your time.
As we approach the one year mark of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the state is spending millions of dollars to upgrade security at schools statewide. An international company with a huge operation in Connecticut is stepping up to help make many of those upgrades.
The slippery road conditions at the height of the storm led to an awful crash in Milford. A driver lost control of his car on Minuteman Drive slamming right into a house.
Ridgefield police and firefighters delivered a baby in a couple's home on Tuesday morning.
It's a story that folks are still talking about, even in the last 24 hours, we've received a dozen new calls on a story News 8 brought you last week about a woman being kicked out a court room for breastfeeding.