Pr. George’s Co. school board failed to act despite troubling internal audit

Prince George's County Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell reacts to the audit, with School Board members behind him. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — There were warning signs that Prince George’s County Public Schools had record-keeping problems before a state audit found irregular grading leading to higher graduation rates last month.

An internal audit in May 2016 revealed some of these problems, but evidently did not set off alarm bells.

“There are thousands and thousands of audits that get done in this district every year,” said Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell. “It’s not my sole responsibility to answer every single one of them.”

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

Maxwell said that he was aware of the audit, but responding to the findings of the audit had been delegated to others.

“There was a responsibility to correct the issues in the audit,” Maxwell said. “No one informed me at all, in the school district, that those corrections had not been made.”

Board Chairman Segun Eubanks said that every board member in 2016 received a quarterly report detailing the audit’s findings, but they evidently went unnoticed.

“We get a lot of these audits,” Eubanks said. “Most of them are relatively small in scope and we don’t comb through it deeply enough to see the ones that might come up that we need to pay attention to. That’s on us as a board.”

Resident Keisha Chase told board members Tuesday night, “I stand before you as a PG county resident as well as a frustrated parent of a senior in the PG County school system.”

Referring to the revelations about sloppy record-keeping, grade-changing and lack of oversight that led to some students graduating without fulfilling state requirements, Chase told Maxwell and school board members, “It’s time for you to go. We are here asking for all of your resignations. Your time is up.”

Yolanda Rodgers, another Prince George’s County resident, told the board she was disappointed by the lack of transparency on the part of the school system. Rodgers said the impact went far beyond the classroom and has profound affects in the community.

“Our children, our teachers have been disgraced by what has happened in our school system. Our upcoming and future graduates have to worry about their transcripts and grades being taken seriously by the colleges that they hope to get into.”

WTOP’s Michelle Basch and Kate Ryan contributed to this story.

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