• Retired SCS teacher: "I fudged grades"

    By: Zach Crenshaw

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A former Shelby County Schools teacher told FOX13 that she has changed grades.

    It is the latest in a handful of allegations from parents, former educators, and a former high school principal.

    Diane Chatman worked for Shelby County Schools as an English teacher for 30 years. She retired in 2016 from White Station High School, where she claims grades were not earned, they were fudged.

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    “All the time. As a senior teacher, most of my football boys never did any work the first nine weeks. So I had to spend a lot of time fudging grades because I didn't want to get called into the office for having too many failures,” said Chatman.

    Chatman said it was not just rounding a simple letter grade up, it was pulling numbers out of thin air.

    “I was just going into the computer putting in 100, 50, 100, 100 so that the score could add up to a 70,” she said.

    Chatman’s allegations of grade fraud do not stand alone.

    On Tuesday, a parent gave FOX13 audio she recorded from a teacher at Bolton High School, where the educator said, “We have meetings about, ‘When you failure rate is so low, why don’t we find some kids we can get to the next level.’”

    Former Trezevant Principal Ronnie Mackin made the same claim in his scathing resignation letter. He alleged grades were changed and Trezevant students got credits for classes they did not pass.

    “I knew it was true,” said Chatman after hearing about Trezevant. “I didn't want Mr. Mackin to be out there by himself.”

    Now the principal is far from alone, and allegations of widespread misconduct are starting to mount.

    “It is a culture that has to stop,” said Chatman. “I have watched this over a period of 30 years, and it has been a battle, and at this point the teachers' hands are tied and they need some help.”

    When FOX13 asked Chatman why she is coming forward with allegations while admitting to changing grades herself, she responded, “to keep my job.”

    The administration at White Station told FOX13 they could not comment, but said Mrs. Chatman’s claims are false.

    Shelby County Schools sent FOX13 the following statement in regards to the allegations. They emailed us a statement that reads in part:

    Any allegation of inappropriate handling of student records or grades should always be reported to the District so the concern can be investigated.  Shelby County Schools encourages all families, employees and other stakeholders to report any illegal act or an activity that is not in the best interests of our students. The District has a hotline that is managed by a third-party organization so people can anonymously report such issues.  Reports can be made by calling 1-844-910-0088 or via email at reports@lighthouse-services.com.  

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