APS principal facing demotion because of alleged grade changing

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that an Atlanta high school principal is facing demotion because of academic misconduct.

A just-completed internal investigation found that Josie Love, the principal of Carver Technology High School, ordered subordinates to enter fictional grades for 65 students enrolled in one course last fall. Love thought the bogus grades were necessary because substitute teachers hadn’t recorded any grades for those students during most of the first semester, according to the investigation.

Rolanda Veal, a 17-year Atlanta Public Schools veteran and an administrative assistant at Carver Tech, tells Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Richard Belcher that Love ordered her to assign a grade of 85 to all of the students because Veal had access to the school’s electronic grading system. Veal says Love made the demand Jan. 13, but Veal refused to comply.

“I see now how the people that was dealing with the (CRCT) cheating scandal, how they felt,” Veal told Belcher.

She says she knew right away that what the principal was telling her to do was wrong.

“In your mind, is this any different than the CRCT cheating?” Belcher asked. “It doesn’t matter if you are erasing, if you’re putting in fraudulent grades or even if you’re doing anything with testing violations. Cheating is cheating,” Veal said.

"It doesn't matter if you are erasing, if you're putting in fraudulent grades or even if you're doing anything with testing violations. Cheating is cheating."

Veal tells Channel 2 she took her complaint to Dr. Timothy Gadson, an associate superintendent for all APS high schools, but she was surprised when Gadson backed the principal.

“He said, ‘Ms. Veal, at this point, when you did not enter the grades, you were being insubordinate,’” Veal said.

Belcher asked if she thought Gadson actually endorsed the fake grades.

Veal responded, “It seemed like that was what he was doing, because he said it was not my decision to question that. It was not my responsibility.”

Veal says Carver Tech Assistant Principal Dr. Yolanda McKee eventually agreed to load the phony grades into the system.

Redacted records obtained by Channel 2 Action News support the claim that all of the students received an 85, no matter what level of academic work they had done. Veal told Channel 2 that giving everyone the same grade is unfair because some students earned more than a B, but others should have gotten lower grades.

Frustrated by what she saw as open cheating, Veal filed a formal complaint, which triggered an internal investigation.

APS provided an internal report to Belcher after he requested it under the Georgia Open Records Act.

In the report dated May 6 and obtained this week by Channel 2 Action News, APS investigators concluded that Love should be demoted for failing to monitor the progress of students and for failing to be truthful during the investigation. The report recommends a so-called “letter of direction” for McKee. There is no recommended disciplinary action for Gadson.

The investigators rejected Veal’s claim that the principal retaliated against her following her refusal to insert the phony grades. Veal’s job was abolished at the end of the current school year, June 30. Veal tells Belcher that sends the wrong message to employees of a school district still badly scarred by the CRCT scandal.

“It’s telling people to just stay quiet, because if you tell, you go. If you engaged in the unethical behavior, you stay,” Veal said.

"It's telling people to just stay quiet, because if you tell, you go."

School officials sent Belcher a statement saying, “The staff changes at the Carver School of Technology at Atlanta Public Schools are the result of the recent consolidation of small schools within our high schools. Duplicate positions in those schools were abolished, and employees who held those positions were encouraged to apply for other positions in the district.”

The statement went on to say that the allegations of grade changing were investigated and appropriate action was taken.

“APS takes seriously any improper grade changing or alleged retaliation on employees who seek to do the right thing in our schools. We are tackling unethical behavior, making employees accountable and promoting a safe environment for employees to report allegations of dishonorable actions by other employees,” the statement said.

Earlier this week, Channel 2 broke the story that APS had recommended the firing of another principal. Investigators found that Charlotte Davis, of South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice, ordered teachers not to give any failing grades, even if students didn't attend classes. Davis also changes hundreds of grades herself without input from teachers.