Grade tampering found at James Hillhouse High School - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Grade tampering found at James Hillhouse High School

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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

In a report released Monday night, instances of grade tampering were found at James Hillhouse High School in New Haven.

The report states that last fall, Assistant Principal Shirley Love Joyner made allegations of grade tampering and improper granting of credits to student athletes.

Due to the allegations, the report states Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo immediately ordered an investigation in the matter and chose attorney Floyd Dugas to conduct it.

None of the allegations involved tampering with state standardized tests, nor did any evidence suggest such tampering. The investigation did substantiate several of Joyner's allegations and found evidence of isolated grade tampering and targeted preferential treatment of certain student athletes by the Hillhouse administration, including Principal Kermit Carolina, the report states.

The investigation involved dozens of interviews and extensive reviewing of records, including emails, student transcripts, school records, teacher grading sheets and other documents. Disciplinary action will be taken against several staff members as a result of the findings of the investigation.

"This has been a very unfortunate situation for all involved," Mayo said in a written statement. "These were very serious allegations made against administrators at our second-largest high school. I will not tolerate improper changing of grades at any school, and therefore disciplinary action will be handed out to staff members who were involved."

According to the report, the investigation made the following findings:

  • Two student athletes were given preferential treatment in summer school and were awarded twice as many credits as other students, yet only had to attend class for half the amount of time pursuant to a "special exception" by Carolina and Riverside Academy Principal Wanda Gibbs.
  • Gibbs lied to or otherwise misled the investigator about how and why the two students were awarded two credits.
  • With Carolina's knowledge, Ed Scarpa changed the course description for two student athletes to make the course appear to be different than the one taken and to eliminate reference to the course being taken in summer school. The change appears to have been made in order to mislead the NCAA and/or others regarding courses taken.
  • Two student athletes were allowed to violate the "160 day attendance rule," with one student missing 45 days of school and still being promoted to the 12th grade.
  • While not intentional, the practice at Hillhouse of allowing teachers to award a grade above the numerical average calculated by the Tenex grading system gives Hillhouse students an advantage over other students in the city and arguably results in grade inflation.
  • The instances of grade tampering at Hillhouse appear to be isolated. However, there appears to be a broad culture at the administrative level of bending rules or ignoring practices and procedures put in place to ensure the integrity of student grades.

Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell will have more on the investigation tonight at 11 p.m.

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