KCBD INVESTIGATES: Did charter school administrator cheat students?

Published: Oct. 29, 2012 at 8:09 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 2:04 AM CST
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Jeffrey Ramirez
Jeffrey Ramirez

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A local charter school is under investigation after allegations surfaced that a school administrator unlawfully changed grades.

Officials with the Houston District office for Public Harmony Schools, head of the cluster of Texas charter schools, expressed they are actively working to get answers about the alleged grade changes.  KCBD NewsChannel 11 is keeping the former administrator's name confidential, since the investigation is still pending and no charges have been filed. When we began our investigation, parents told us this former administrator was still employed at HAS, but parted ways last week. The district office said they are unable to confirm dates of when this investigation began or when this administrator ended her employment.

Public Harmony Schools Spokesperson Julie Shussler confirmed Monday the Harmony Science Academy administrator is no longer employed at the charter school.

"As a precautionary measure, we have taken additional steps to protect the integrity of the school's computer technology and grading system," Shussler said in a written statement.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 spoke with several parents who claimed they knew the former administrator changed grades to hurt some students academically, which they claim helped her own children to excel and graduate with honors.

Jeffrey Ramirez, who has 2 step-children who currently attend HAS, volunteered at the Charter school. Ramirez said despite his effort to help out, he noticed problems between students and school officials from the very start.

"Pretty much when I started volunteering there right off the bat, I started seeing all kinds of things like teachers mistreating the students, screaming at them," said Ramirez.

Ramirez said he was dismissed after he exposed several incidents to administrators, including a school official who he said changed grades.

Ramirez said he witnessed the administrator change grades with his own eyes and said it explains why her son graduated as valedictorian.

NewsChannel 11:  "Do you think she's using that same system to hold other kids back?" Ramirez: "Yeah, in fact, I'm positive that she is. She has a problem with one of the parents because this parent does voice her concerns."

We met a few mothers who did voice their concerns. Although they did agree to an on-camera interview with NewsChannel 11, we respected their wishes and concealed their identity.

One of the mothers said she checked her daughter's grades through the school's online grade checking system. She checked it on a continual basis since she participated in an after school extracurricular activity and is a member of a club, which helps to provide a scholarship for college.

This mother noticed a drastic change in her daughter's grades over a 2-day period. She checked with her daughter's teachers. The teachers confirmed the grades in the system were not accurate.

Ramirez provided KCBD NewsChannel 11 a few text messages between him and the former administrator. According to the message provided, it read, "Please don't tell him (Principal Bayar) about me changing the grades over the summer. I don't want to get fired.  If you keep my secret, I'll help you as much as I can."

Shussler provided the following statement in regards to the accusations of altering grades:

"The matter is under an ongoing investigation, which is not yet complete, and until it's complete we are not in a position to comment."

Harmony Science Academy declined our request for an on camera interview, due to the pending investigation.

We reached out to the Texas Education Agency to see if they had any insight about this particular investigation. TEA said this matter is considered an "internal investigation" and only involves the Houston-based district office.

NewsChannel 11 will continue to stay on top of this investigation. We will bring you the latest results as they become available.

RELATED STORY: Harmony Science representative defends school, denies allegations

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