Principal and Football Coach Fall in Anderson County Grade Fixing Scandal

Accusations of manipulating grades at a high school in Anderson County have resulted in the removal of several prominent figures including a popular high school principal, the head football coach, two teachers, and three counselors.

Meanwhile, local education authorities have refused to address the alleged alteration of 1,500 grades during the previous school year at Clinton High, a school with 1,200 students situated northwest of Knoxville.

During a crowded school board meeting last week, community members and parents arrived ready to raise concerns about the unfolding scandal, but were not given the opportunity to do so.

The meeting was swiftly concluded in under 15 minutes without allowing public input, potentially violating the state’s open meeting law.

“The Clinton community requires a thorough and transparent investigation,” stated Worrick Robinson IV, an attorney representing former Clinton High School Principal Daniel Jenkins.

Jenkins stepped down in May following accusations of instructing teachers to alter grades, allegations he has refuted since.

The grade-fixing issue in Anderson County specifically revolves around credit recovery programs, which offer struggling students a chance to retake classes, remain in school, and graduate on time.

These online programs, acquired by county school boards, have faced scrutiny due to the lack of oversight by state education officials and the ease with which grades can be manipulated, according to Carolyn Heinrich, a Public Policy and Education professor at Vanderbilt University.

These programs enable students to retake classes and undergo multiple assessments to evaluate their understanding of a course, module by module.

However, instructors can easily alter module grades by manually overriding them or placing students in “test only” mode, allowing them to bypass computer instruction and proceed directly to tests.

Heinrich’s research, concentrated on the Edgenuity credit recovery program utilized in Anderson County, indicates that students in test-only mode can cheat easily by relying on external sources such as Google for answers.

At Clinton High, Rachel Jones, a teacher overseeing the credit recovery program, identified as the informant for many of the allegations against fellow staff members, disclosed incidents of grade manipulation and cheating by students using their mobile phones.

Jones, who was terminated subsequently, reported that she altered 485 scores, with many questions skipped until achieving the desired grade for a student.

She alleged that students resorted to cheating during tests by searching for answers on their phones.

Jones claimed she adjusted grades upon the requests of principal Jenkins and school counselors, according to the dismissal document.

In addition, Jones pointed fingers at Darrel Keith, the former football coach at Clinton High, alleging that he instructed her to alter a failing football player’s grades.

Both Jenkins and Keith have denied any misconduct.

“It’s regrettable when unproven allegations tarnish someone’s reputation,” expressed Keith via text, refuting the accusations and asserting he lacked the authority to modify grades.

Another teacher at Clinton High involved in the credit recovery program revealed altering 1,009 grades within a four-month span, as detailed in disciplinary documents.

The teacher, Clay Turpin, attributed the actions to Jenkins and other school counselors.

While Turpin stated he was never directed to change scores, he recalled Jenkins emphasizing the necessity of credit recovery students’ grades to surpass a 60 for course completion.

Turpin often guided students to the credit recovery software’s “test only mode” enabling them to bypass lengthy online instruction and search for answers, leading to instances such as a student completing an entire geometry course in less than two hours.

Efforts to reach Turpin for comment were unsuccessful.

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