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Patrick county moves to correct issues
Division issues draft of Corrective Action Plan

Friday, December 21, 2012

By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Patrick County Schools Superintendent Dr. Roger Morris said Thursday he considers the draft of the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) the division sent to the state to be “a very positive step” toward correcting any issues found by the Virginia Department of Education (DOE).

Following a state probe of alleged irregularities in testing, diploma administration, communication and personnel matters, the DOE issued a report Nov. 21 of lapses it alleged and gave the division 30 days to respond. The division sent its draft response to the agency Thursday, Morris said.

“I’m satisfied,” he said. The DOE wants the issues corrected, “and so does the (Patrick County School) board. If we’re doing something wrong, we need to correct it.”

According to the CAP, the state sought improvements in “the need for more professionalism to develop a better environment of listening and respect” among employees. In its Nov. 21 report, the DOE also expressed a need for more training and better communication to prevent further lapses.

To that end, the CAP outlined plans to set up several committees among administrators and faculty to address problems the state found with “inaccurate graduation data” that was reported in addition to lapses in teacher accreditation.

Morris said the board intended to use the CAP as a “collaborative approach” to correct any problems.

“We don’t just want to dictate a policy and have individuals not understand it or have input in it,” he said. He added that the board wanted to make sure the staff and possibly students have a say.

After Patrick County High School principal Moriah Dollarhite was reassigned to the central school board office Wednesday, Morris said her role would ensure “we can have someone do a lot of research and do a lot of policy development” as the CAP is implemented. He added that the graduating class of 2013 already has been reviewed to prevent irregularities in degree awards.

Stuart Elementary Principal Tammy Waldron had been reassigned as interim principal at the high school and Dee Owens, assistant principal at Stuart Elementary, will serve as principal on an interim basis, Morris said. Both appointments likely will last until the end of the school year.

“We needed to provide some stability, and that’s what we did,” he added.

The movement of the principals was not a punitive measure in Dollarhite’s case, nor was it a result of the DOE report, Morris said. He said that she might be reassigned later should the school board deem it necessary.

As part of its effort to comply with the DOE report, the central school board office will go through restructuring to meet the needs of the CAP. Morris did not elaborate, but said the structure of the central office has been the same for the past 20 years.

“In 20 years, education has changed a whole lot,” and the division needs to adapt, he said.

Morris said the state will respond to the school’s draft report with corrections, and the division will make any necessary changes. He said the DOE has not given the division a timetable for its response.

In all, Morris estimated that it would take six months to a year to implement all the steps in the corrective action plan. “After that, it will be mostly measuring progress,” he said.


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