MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A teacher at Shelby County Schools this past school year told the SCS Board and Superintendent that grade changing is a systemic issue in the district.
Mike Pleasants felt emboldened because he is no longer going to work directly for SCS, he is moving to an SCS Charter school after the summer.
A few weeks ago though, he was employed as a teacher at Hamilton High School, where he submitted a formal incident report through the district’s tipline. In his formal complaint, he detailed allegations of how administrators were changing his students’ grades to ensure they graduated.
When Pleasants heard former Trezevant Principal Ronnie Mackin's allegations he said they immediately sounded 'truthful.'
“Those are problems that seem to exist outside of just his school, I've seen them at many schools that I've worked at,” said Pleasants.
Last year, Pleasants worked at Hamilton High School, teaching Government Economics.
“At the end of the year, very few of my students actually failed my course. Really just kids who didn't show up, but currently they are all passing,” said Pleasants. “I think someone changed the grades.”
Pleasants told FOX13 he knows who made the changes based on the online grading records.
“I have records of every change that was made in virtual schools. The documentation is tracked very well,” said Pleasants.
He also kept detailed records and reported the incident to SCS through the tipline in mid-May.
“I have not heard back,” said Pleasants, more than three weeks later.
At Thursday’s meeting, the district downplayed the widespread, mounting allegations.
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the problem lies in just “a few bad apples.”
"99-percent of the people that work for this district do what they're supposed to do, but it's that one percent," said Hopson. "That one percent, if you were changing kids' grades and doing all these things for whatever reason, financial gain or whatever. You cannot work here. So what I can say to you is, that when we find stuff like this, nobody's covering anything up."
Pleasants said he respects Hopson, but is not sure the superintendent is fully aware of what is going on inside district schools.
“I think that that estimate is definitely a much nicer kinder estimate than is the reality,” said Pleasants, when asked about one percent of ‘bad apples.’
He also believes the problem is engrained, and will not be easy, or popular, to root out.
“These are common practices and changing them would affect graduation rates in a negative way,” said Pleasants.
Less graduates is not something Pleasants wants, but he said the standards need to be raised.
“If we want to see real student growth, if we want to see students who are employable in jobs in Memphis, who could go work for Medtronic or St. Jude, then we need to implement real standards for academic integrity, or else we are just making diploma mills and giving kids fake credentials.”
FOX13 reached out to SCS this afternoon and asked if they ever received Pleasant’s formal complaint.
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