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Patrick County report released with few changes

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Few changes were made to the final version of a report by the state Department of Education after an investigation of the Patrick County School system.

The state issued a draft report on Nov. 15, following an on-site investigation and review of the school division that was prompted by complaints. The draft included an executive summary which addressed many of the concerns that ranged from possible grade changes, inappropriately awarded diplomas, lack of training, policies and other concerns.

The draft stated that some complaints were unfounded; others were founded and still others are issues for the local school board to resolve.

Schools Superintendent Roger Morris asked the state to make several changes to the draft, including the number of students who were inappropriately awarded diplomas, the lack of a two-way communication system and a method to report anonymous concerns, lack of summer school, and others.

After reexamining data, interviews and other documents, the DOE team declined to change the executive summary with respect to the number of students to inappropriately receive a diploma.

“The team’s summary is clear and does not require revision. In addition, the team’s computation of 21 students is correct,” the VDOE response stated.

State officials modified the wording of the draft report in some areas as a result of Morris’ request.

For example, the VDOE modified the wording of its initial finding that a lack of policies prevented the school board from complying with the state standard for two-way communication. The final report stated that the lack of policy “precludes the local school board from effectively implementing” two-way communication between employees to the local school board and its administrative staff “whereby matters of concern are discussed in an orderly and constructive manner.”

The team also asserted that while there is no regulatory requirement for a school division to create a process that allows anonymous reports of testing concerns and potential irregularities, the VDOE “strongly recommends the implementation of such a process,” it stated.

With respect to the school division employing a teacher who is not licensed, the report stated that a teacher is allowed to be temporarily employed for up to 90 teaching days. When the review was conducted, school officials stated to the DOE team that there was a plan in place to change the course taught by that teacher, according to the report.

If that plan is carried out, the teacher will be teaching out of her area of endorsement, the report stated.

Morris also noted that “some items such as commendations and appreciations are missing” from the draft report, according to the state.

The final report concluded that while the team appreciated the assistance and hospitality of school staff during the on-site review and their cooperation in the investigative process, the team’s “efforts were to develop a report that focuses only on the issues in the complaint.”

To resolve the procedural errors outlined in the report, the school division must send a Corrective Action Plan to state officials within 30 days.

The Patrick County School Board next meets at 4:30 p.m. Friday to continue discussions of the draft report by meeting with 21 representatives of the various schools. Some of that meeting will be in closed session.


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