10 Investigates Finds Hundreds Of Altered Grades At Columbus High School


UPDATED: Thursday February 21, 2013 6:31 PM

New documents uncovered by 10 Investigates raise questions about final grades at Marion-Franklin High School.

10 Investigates obtained documents that show some grades on final diplomas have been altered, with the school intentionally changing final marks.

“That was just done very, very rarely in the four years I was there,” said Berandine Kennedy.

Kent is a former assistant principal at Marion-Franklin. She now has an organization known as Parent Advocates for Students in Schools (PASS).

Kent said when she was there, the school almost never changed a grade.

“I could really actually count on one hand how many grades were changed,” said Kent.

But the documents uncovered by 10 Investigates shows it's recently happened much more frequently, and in the majority of cases, grades went from Fs to Ds.

That means graduations rates likely improved, and both Marion-Franklin and the district looked better on state report cards.

10 Investigates obtained the documents through a public records request.

The documents showed grades in 2011 going from Fs to Ds over-and-over again.

In the records from the districts internal auditor, 10 Investigates found in one month alone, hundreds of changes.

“I'm really angry already and sickened,” said Kent.

That same month, the records show the school switched Fs to Ds hundreds of times. Many of the entries were made minutes apart from one another or near the same time.

“F-to-D at 11:02 a.m, F-to-D 11:02 a.m., F-to-D 11:19,” read 10 Investigates’ Paul Aker.

“That would suggest manipulation of the grades. That would suggest some type of fraudulent activity,” said Kent. “I feel so sorry for our students.”

Marion-Franklin Principal Pamela Diggs has not returned calls for comment. Diggs’ former assistant principal's name is on the grade change documents obtained from the internal auditor's office which say "Stan Pyle Grade Changes."

Kent said that suggests Pyle went to his computer and changed the grades en masse.

Pyle did not respond to repeated attempts to contact him. Nobody from the District could explain what 10 Investigates found, put it in context, or say whether the same thing has happened at other Columbus City Schools.

Still, the district's own internal auditor, Carolyn Smith, is working with the Ohio State Auditor to investigate.

Emails 10 Investigates obtained show auditors have made plans to interview teachers, specifically those at Marion-Franklin, in an apparent effort to find out if those teachers approved the grade changes.

Nobody at the district would go on camera for an interview, but a spokesman sent this statement:

“The District takes this issue very seriously, and is closely evaluating the data contained within the report.  Given that the investigation has not been completed, it would not be appropriate to offer any conclusions or comments at this juncture.  The District will continue to fully cooperate with all other investigating authorities with respect to this issue.”

Still, Marion-Franklin has loyal defenders.

“The community backs this school,” said parent Tim Johnson.

Johnson calls the school and its administrators are outstanding.

But he said that it the grades were changed, it might be wrong, unless school administrators had a reasonable explanation.

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