In Mid-January, five staff members were fired from DuVal High School for intended violation of grading and graduation procedures in effort to boost the school’s graduation rates. The violations were discovered by a state-ordered investigation from whistleblower complaints. These findings leave Prince George’s County Public Schools under serious watch from Maryland’s Board of Education.
Administrators at DuVal violated graduation procedures as the high school graduated 92 percent of its students weeks after district data analyst Anthony Whittington projected graduation rates at DuVal to be more around 59 percent.
The DuVal scandal may be the first of many investigations to turn rotten in Prince George’s County as an earlier investigation in November 2017 found that grades were changed just days before graduations for more than 5,500 students.
“DuVal is the first school to go through this but certainly not the last,” confirms School Board Member Edward Burroughs III to The Washington Post.
In recent years, PGCPS has gone under criticism from students, parents, and teachers for various reasons. This past school year, the cutting of Advanced Placement (AP) exam funding caused an uproar from parents and students who had been notified of the funding cuts after the school year had already begun.
In the past two years, PGCPS experienced a 600 percent increase on teachers put on administrative leave, where teachers would be replaced by long-term substitutes and students would be left with only “subwork,” sometimes for crucial classes such as AP classes.
In August 2016, PGCPS also lost a significant federal grant of 6.3 million dollars for Head Start in schools as there were complaints on, what the director of Head Start at the Department of Health and Human Services detailed as, the school system failing to train Head Start instructors who used humiliation and corporal punishment as discipline techniques for children as young as three years old.
PGCPS Student Board Member Amanya Paige weighed in on the issues.
“For a better future we [the people of Prince George’s County] need accountability,” said Paige. “Honesty needs to be shared on the issues that we have and serious thinking has to take place of where we actually need to make changes in the system.”
Unfortunately, not only will these findings affect the reputation of PGCPS, they may also affect its credibility as a school system. Students graduating from the 20 PG high schools may be soon at-risk to be looked as “lesser” than students graduating from different counties across the state.
“The reports negatively impacts students,” said Paige. “Students now have the concern of whether or not colleges will take their grades seriously. Our students need to work twice as hard to prove themselves as globally competent individuals.”
All Prince George’s County students can do is hope for the best despite having to face bad-publicity that their schools may be receiving.
Art teacher Mr.Chinkota, a source of inspiration for many students, had one word to PGCPS students who may feel discouraged about the effects the scandals may have on their futures: “Do what you have to do. Don’t worry about your peers and just work your way to where you need to be.”