Principal Admits Manipulating Roster To Boost CRCT Scores

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.,None - Channel 2 Action News has learned that a DeKalb County principal resigned after admitting she tried to improve her school's CRCT scores by unenrolling some students.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned that the incident took place as Rock Chapel Elementary in Lithonia prepared for last year's CRCT exams.

Belcher got his hands on a letter from interim DeKalb County Superintendent Ramona Tyson alerting the Professional Standards Commission of a possible violation of the state's Code of Ethics for Educators by Principal Angela Jennings. The commission investigates alleged misconduct by educators.

Belcher obtained a written statement that Jennings gave to DeKalb School investigators. Jennings wrote that she was "worried about the effect certain students would have on her school's chance to make annual yearly progress, or AYP."

"Before the CRCT, I sent a letter to the parents of 13 students advising that they would be withdrawn due to poor attendance, which would cause the school not to make AYP," Jennings explained.

Belcher thought it might be the first case of its kind, but Gary Walker of the state's Professional Standards Commission said there are others.

He chuckled while thinking about a case of roster manipulation in another county.

He said 86 students were withdrawn, and then reinstated.

"In one day?" Belcher asked.

"Yeah, they were withdrawn one day, and a day later they were reinstated. They were out one day," he said.

Jennings was caught and resigned.

"You're decreasing the students who have a likelihood of not doing well on the test," said Walker.

Belcher questioned DeKalb Schools spokesman Walter Woods.

"Is it good when word gets out that people have been caught and action's been taken?" Belcher asked.

"Absolutely. I think the parents, the taxpayers … all the stakeholders of the school system need to know that we're putting the needs of the kids first, and the CRCT is part of that," Woods said.

Belcher was unable to reach Jennings at her home in Lithonia on Thursday. Channel 2 learned that her case is still working its way through the investigative system at the Professional Standards Commission.