WASHINGTON — Protesters gathered outside Thursday night’s Prince George’s County Board of Education meeting in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, venting outrage and frustration in the wake of allegations that the county inflated its graduation rate in a fraudulent manner.
But while protesters, organized by Progressive Maryland, chanted things like “save our schools” and “educate, then graduate” outside before the meeting started, inside the meeting education leaders from around the county came together to fire back against the allegations.
“We as high school principals are extremely offended about the allegation and hurtful accusations that we pressure teachers to give students grades in order to increase the system’s graduation rate,” said Tracie Miller, principal at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, said
“The headline of fake diplomas or graduation rate inflation stains all of us.”
The head of the county’s teachers’ union also slammed the accusations, which came in a letter signed by four of the county’s school board members last week.
“Prince George’s County educators are here for the children. We don’t change grades,” said Theresa Mitchell-Dudley, “We’re teachers. We give them.”
School system CEO Kevin Maxwell also offered up a fiery defense.
“The false allegations about our graduation rates strike at everything that Prince George’s County schools stand for past, present, and future,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell garnered applause when he added, “these allegations denigrate why teachers teach, and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every teacher, counselor, administrator, and employee in this system.”
But some of the county’s elected leaders seem to be expressing doubt. The county’s state house delegation is asking the State Department of Education to conduct another investigation into the fraud allegations.
The Washington Post says the letter suggests the initial investigation — which concluded earlier this year and found the allegations of fraud to be without merit — only skimmed the surface amid questions of how impartial it really was.