LANHAM, Md. - Prince George's County Public Schools staff members are starting to be removed after a state audit into claims of grade-fixing to boost the graduation rate.
In a letter sent to parents at DuVal High School Monday, Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said "several changes have been made" to staff at the school following the probe.
"An investigation by the Prince George's County Board of Education Office of Internal Audit and the recent State performance audit of grading and graduation rates corroborate evidence that some DuVal High School staff made inappropriate decisions to impact the grading and graduation certification processes," said Maxwell in the letter.
Sources and parents told FOX 5's Lindsay Watts that a principal, a vice principal and three guidance counselors have been removed from the school.
This is the first report of Prince George's County Public Schools staff members being punished or terminated as a result of the audit.
The audit found there was evidence of grade-fixing and nearly of third of graduates in a sample did not meet requirements to graduate or did not have the documents to show they met requirements. The audit, however, did not find that the schools CEO ordered staff to push students through and change grades.
On Monday, FOX 5 obtained two emails sent to DuVal's assistant principal who is no longer at the school. The emails are from a direct report to the deputy superintendent and pertain to the school's graduation rate.
One email from May 2016 said, "At this point, your graduation rate is trending at 59%."It goes on to say, "There are 130 students still needed to meet your SMART goal," and inquires how many of those students are projected to actually graduate.
Just a few weeks later, DuVal graduated more than 92 percent of its students.
An email from April 2017 asked, "If we took community service off the list, how many would then be eligible for graduation? You are at 28% now..."
Days later, the DuVal assistant principal and a guidance counselor sent out their own email to staff at the school. The email listed 141 seniors who needed "one last intervention" to graduate.
The email asked for last minute "rub a genie in a bottle" assistance from teachers and was sent just a few weeks before graduation.
When asked if the central office emails show there was pressure on school staff to change grades to graduate students, Prince George's County Public Schools spokesman John White responded by email saying, "No, most employees follow policies and procedures. Also, setting goals for more students to graduate high school is the right thing to do. Opportunities for success after high school are severely limited without a diploma."
White said the emails speak to goals each school has, and "no principal was disciplined for not reaching the goal nor was there any financial incentive."
FOX 5's coverage on grade-fixing allegations in Prince George's County Public Schools: