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"Fatal Errors" at Waco ISD Allowed Students to Graduate Without Meeting Requirements

Waco Independent School District Officials and its Board of Trustees announced that investigations into University High School revealed "fatal errors" in grading and attendance reporting, which ultimately allowed some students to graduate even though they didn’t meet state requirements.

In a press conference, board president Pat Atkins said trustees are disappointed with the employees responsible, saying their actions affect the public’s trust of the district.

“It appears a few people a few people have made poor decisions and may have damaged that integrity," Atkins said during a press conference. "I assure you, superintendent Cain, the trustees, and the district are doing all we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Some of the irregularities revealed through the investigation are with the school’s Individual Graduation Committees. In Texas these committees provide students with a second chance at graduation if they haven’t failed more than 2 End of Course exams. The investigation, however, found at least 3 students who graduated through these committees had either failed more than 2 End of Course tests, or didn’t take them at all.  There were additional problems found with the school's IGCs, including areas were standards were lowered, making passing easier.

Furthermore, the investigation found faults within how the school’s credit recovery program was handled. The investigation found that students who recovered credit through computer-based assignments in the school’s “TOP Lab” did so within days and for some, within hours.

"We know that a student failed both semester of chemistry in the school year, failed the first semester with a 49, failed the second semester with a 35," Atkins recounted. “That student did not show up in the TOPS lab until June 2nd and by June 3rd they had already earned a full year of chemistry credit.”

The external investigation reviewed the documents of nearly 150 students, whose educational records raised red flags, said Pat Atkins. However, It remains uncertain exactly how many students were able to graduate as a result of this misconduct.

The district first learned of the grading and attendance errors on June 3, 2016 – just one day before University High School’s graduation.

Those students who graduated through the grading and attendance-keeping misconduct will retain their diplomas, reads a press release from the district. 

"According to Texas Education Code Guidelines, no student formally certified as a graduate at commencement June 4 will lose that diploma or status."

Three University High administrators were placed on administrative leave after the allegations surfaced.