The Atlanta high school registrar who lost her job after being accused of improperly changing a student’s course grade from failing to passing is a scapegoat, her lawyer told an Atlanta Public Schools hearing officer Wednesday.
“They’re firing the messenger,” John Trotter, lawyer for former Washington High School registrar Ailisha Jones, said during a civil service hearing appealing her termination.
Jones is one of several former Atlanta school employees who claim they were retaliated against after reporting improper grading practices.
Atlanta Public Schools officials initially declared the hearing closed to the public, saying they did not consider it a public meeting under Georgia’s open meetings law. Reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News were eventually allowed to observe.
Jones is accused of changing a student’s grade from a failing 69 to a passing 70. The district’s online grade book shows that Jones had modified the student’s grading record after his teacher first awarded his failing grade, Washington assistant principal Tracy Hicks Harrell testified.
Trotter argued that another school employee could have changed the grade in question and Jones only corrected the number of credits the student earned as part of an effort to “clean up” transcript errors.
A lawyer representing the school district argued that Jones had betrayed the public “faith and trust.”
“At its heart this is a case about academic honesty and professional integrity,” lawyer Anita Bala said.
The hearing was suspended abruptly after Bala and the hearing officer objected to Trotter raising his voice and moving his arms about.
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