South Atlanta principal on leave after grade-changing investigation

The principal of a South Atlanta high school has been put on leave after a district investigation into alleged improper grade-changing.

Effective Monday, South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice Principal Charlotte Davis was placed on leave for the few remaining days of the school year, according to a letter to parents from Associate Superintendent Timothy Gadson.

“The investigation is now complete; and as a result, there will be changes at South Atlanta LSJ as we end the 2014-2015 school year,” he wrote.

The school district has not yet responded to a public-records request made today for the results of that investigation.

Since the start of this school year, the Atlanta school district had been investigating allegations that Davis improperly changed student grades and retaliated against employees who reported the grade-changing.

Davis signed off on at least 39 grade changes last spring, grade-change sheets obtained by WSBTV show. But Davis changed many more grades — several hundred — in a school with about 300 students, according to WSBTV.

All but one of the grades were increased to 70, the lowest passing grade.

In some cases, the new grades allowed students who earned numeric grades as low as 8 or 9 to pass.

Davis has not responded to messages from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution seeking comment.

Most of the changes were made in June and July, shortly after Davis officially became principal.

The change forms were all signed by Davis and the school’s registrar. None were signed by classroom teachers. The registrar is not under investigation, district spokeswoman Kimberly Willis Green said last week.

On the change forms, the reason given for most of the changes was either that the student had mastered the work or the teacher had failed to follow district grading policy.

District policy allows principals to change student grades in response to challenges “based on objective criteria.”

And it requires students’ parents and the central office to be informed of any grade changes.

Atlanta Public Schools officials have not answered questions about whether those notifications happened.

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