Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Grade changing stalling Top 10

Investigation continues at W.S. Neal High School; possibly criminal


May 10, 2018

Escambia County School Superintendent John Knott said his goal is to name the valedictorian, salutatorian and Top 10 at W.S. Neal High School before the May 22 graduation as multiple agencies continue to investigate how and which grades were apparently changed.

Knott said the original plan was to announce the Top 10 on the Friday before spring break, but discrepancies found in grades on report cards that didn't match transcripts put the process on hold.

Knott said the discrepancies were discovered when the school was finalizing the Top 10 students. Grades used to select the valedictorian, salutatorian and Top 10 start at the beginning of the ninth grade and stop at the end of the third 9-week grading period of a student's senior year.

Knott said he was first contacted by school personnel about noon on March 23 saying that previous printed grade records didn't match the current records. He said he made the decision not to announce the Top 10 at that point and that the situation would be looked into following spring break.

Knott said within a day or two after reviewing the grades, it was discovered some students' grades had been changed.

“I had them pull more information and in a couple of days we determined definite unauthorized changes in grades,” Knott said.

He said at that point he contacted the Alabama State Department of Education to ask for its assistance in the investigation. He also asked other agencies to aid in the investigation.

“We have brought in additional resources that could aid in this investigation to determine the facts and resolve this matter,” Knott said.

He said he wants to find out how it happened and who was involved.

“It's been very time consuming,” Knott said. “We've literally been working seven days a week.”

“We are determined to make sure the records are correct, to ascertain how these changes happened, and hold all who may be involved accountable,” Knott added.

He said the first priority is to get the grades corrected and said last week officials began talking with individual teachers who had students whose grades were changed. He also said several students have been interviewed.

“I take this personal,” Knott said. “I'm determined to get to the bottom of it and who's involved.”

He said it's still his goal to have the Top 10 named by graduation, but they won't be named until officials are sure the grades are correct.

Students suspended

Knott did confirm that several students were suspended from W.S. Neal High School Tuesday for being out of uniform, but could not confirm rumors that it was some type of student protest over the grades.

He said seniors got together the day before and decided not to wear their uniforms as part of a joke day.

Principal Patricia Frazier informed the students it was not an 'out-of-uniform' day and allowed them time to either go home and change or have someone bring them new clothes.

Several students who refused to do either were suspended.


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