Audit prompts leaders to demand change in Prince George’s Co. schools

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Anger over grade fixing in Prince George’s County Public Schools has united Gov. Larry Hogan and civil rights leaders in the county who are demanding that school administrators immediately acknowledge the findings of a state audit and make major changes to the school system.

The audit by the State Board of Education found irregular grading and concluded that nearly 25 percent of high school students may have had their grades changed in 2016 and 2017 to clear their path to graduation.

“Kids are promoted and/or graduating from school when they haven’t met the requirements and that really just cheats the kids,” Hogan said following an hourlong meeting with a group of parents and civil rights leaders including Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s County chapter, NAACP.

Hogan ordered the state audit following complaints from the county, which he has called home for more than 50 years.

“I grew up in Landover and Capitol Heights,” Hogan said, “I care very much about the children of Prince George’s County — this really is all about the kids.”

“Governor, we thank you, we thank you for coming,” said Phyllis Wright, a parent of children in the Prince George’s County Public School system.

“The CEO must go, he does not care about our children,” Wright said, echoing a demand from others in the group that school system CEO Kevin Maxwell lose his job over the findings in the audit.

Hogan stopped short of calling for anyone’s resignation, but demanded that school administrators take the audit seriously.

“So far all the public comments were — this is just politics — this is simply sloppy record keeping and book keeping — and it’s simply a matter of dotting i’s and crossing t’s. That is absolutely false in every regard,” Hogan said.

“Dr. Maxwell and his leadership team have taken the state audit findings and recommendations very seriously,” said John White, public information officer, Prince George’s County Public Schools.

White said the school system is developing an action plan to improve grading and the graduation certification process.

NAACP Chapter head Bob Ross praised the governor for his support in demanding improvements in the school system, and Ross is threatening a civil rights lawsuit against the school system on behalf of its students.

“We’ll be contacting the national NAACP for that to see if we can do that,” Ross said.

The school system promised to soon present a comprehensive plan for improving the local Board of Education.

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